West Indies cricket for a cause

The UWI Cave Hill Barbados. W.I. 07 November 2017. A line-up of current and former West Indies and international cricket stars, together with student athletes is set to play the sport they love in a Celebrity T20 Cricket Hurricane Irma/Maria Relief Benefit match on Saturday 11 November, 2017. The names were announced at a media launch for the event held on Friday 3 November, 2017 at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. The match will be held at the Campus’ 3Ws Oval beginning at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Caribbean time).

The match allows free admission to the public, however cash donations will be collected on the day or online via www.uwi.edu/relief. Proceeds will go towards rebuilding schools and hospitals in the many Caribbean islands which suffered significant damage during the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria earlier this year. It is being hosted by The UWI in partnership with platinum sponsor, Sagicor Financial Corporation and Flow Sports who will broadcast the event live across its network throughout the region. Other corporate entities are invited to join the cause, and companies will also have the opportunity to sponsor an over during the twenty-over game. The relief benefit calls for persons to “Rally Round the West Indies”, encouraging the thousands of spectators at the match and those viewing around the region on Flow Sports Premier to give generously.

Outlining the details of the fundraising match, Department Head at the Cave Hill Academy, a division of The UWI Faculty of Sport, Mrs Amanda Reifer announced that the celebrity players include: Fidel Edwards; Sulieman Benn; Dwayne Smith; Professor Sir Hilary Beckles; Floyd Reifer; Tino Best; Ian Bradshaw; Dale Richards; Daren Ganga; Rayad Emrit; Ramnaresh Sarwan; Curtly Ambrose; Franklyn Rose; Yohan Blake; Vasbert Drake and (former English cricketer and Dominican born, Philip Defreitas). A number of student athletes are also scheduled to play including: Justin Bramble; Leniko Boucher; Nicholas Kirton and Gilon Tyson. The players will be divided to make up a Prime Ministers’ XI team, playing against a Sagicor-UWI Icons XI team.

Speaking at the media launch (remotely from The UWI’s Headquarters in Jamaica), Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said, “This event is really consistent with a long tradition of the Caribbean coming together to take responsibility for each other in cases of adversity. We have a culture and a tradition of solidarity in this region. It brings out the best in us, and it illustrates the circumstances around our resilience as a people and the philanthropic nature of our culture. We have been visited with these horrendous natural circumstances that have devastated our communities across the region. CARICOM and all of the regional institutions have done their very best to focus on the rebuilding efforts of these communities. The UWI is very much involved in the rebuilding process…But this event however is in the area of popular culture. This event is designed and conceptualised to really let our communities in Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla know that we are thinking of them and that this is a moment of healing because the Caribbean community is coming together to send messages of solidarity. What binds us together in the area of culture is the sport of cricket, but this event is part of a broader agenda.”

Delivering remarks on behalf of the Cave Hill Campus Principal, Professor V. Eudine Barriteau, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Dr David Berry acknowledged, “The game of cricket is the region’s game, loved by all. As is said in Barbados, it is the region’s second religion. Cricket has been and continues to be a great unifier. The T20 cricket game is a collaborative fundraising effort…It is a tangible and most fitting expression of our “oneness” as a region. It is a form of caring regional integration.”

Ms Carolyn Shepherd, Assistant Vice-President of Marketing at Sagicor identified numerous social initiatives undertaken by the company in the aftermath of the hurricanes. She said, “Our sponsorship of this event is Sagicor’s way to say that we are listening and we feel your pain…As a Pan-Caribbean company, we understand the ties that bind us as one people: a wider Caribbean citizenship that pushes geographical boundaries aside and embraces an inclusive cultural identity evolved from the deep roots of a rich, shared history. West Indies cricket plays a pivotal role in that history, so what better way for us to come together…”

The Celebrity T20 Cricket Hurricane Irma/Maria Relief Benefit is just one initiative of a larger two-phased approach to response efforts by The UWI. These efforts are largely concentrated on the deployment of relief aid and experts, working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), as well as Heads of Governments and mobilising funding to assist in the restoration of these affected islands. A number of other initiatives to support affected staff and students are also being coordinated across the University’s campuses and members of staff also have the opportunity to give through salary deductions.