A thirteen-member national Under-15 cricket team has been selected by the Department of Youth Development and Sports in collaboration with the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association to defend the Windward Islands Under-15 cricket title in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Team Saint Lucia is expected to depart the island today for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and are expected back home on Monday 18.
The players were introduced to members of the media on Wednesday morning at the Department of Youth Development and Sports conference room. The team is being captained by Ackeem Auguste, a student of the St. Mary’s College, with Sky La Feuille as his vice-captain. Ryan Goodman is the only other player to repeat for this year’s tournament, which runs from December 10 to 17.
Stephane Theophile and Amari Venner, who were on the reserve list earlier last year when the Saint Lucian team won their fourth straight tournament in Grenada, have been included in this year’s lineup.
The remainder of the squad includes: Royce Paul, Noel Leo, Tarryck Edward, Shakkin Breen, Sharquane Prudent, Daren Sammy Jr, Bolton Sayers and Desue Gidharry.
John Eugene, a former national cricketer, now cricket coach in the Department of Youth Development and Sports, will again travel as head coach, while Junior Derose will be team manager.
Addressing the gathering, Eugene said, “It has been a hard, challenging road for us as we were confined to the Mindoo Phillip Park to do most of our preparations. It’s unfortunate that our national team could not get to use the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground. Despite (that), it provided a unique challenge for the boys. It made the batsmen work harder for the runs and spend more time in the middle. It was a blessing in disguise.”
He added: “We started with 70-plus young cricketers, and we are now down to the final 13. This time around, by all indication, this is the best 13 ever. Coach Keith Charley (and) Junior Derose had to go beyond our expectations to mould this team to what it is now.”
Eugene said the composition of the team is very well-balanced: everyone one can bowl and bat, and Captain Akeem Auguste will have a tough time deciding who to bowl and when.
Brian Calixte, Cricket Operations Manager of the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association and former national cricketer, congratulated the team for their selection and for a job well done during the three months of preparation. He expressed confidence that they will represent the country well throughout the tournament.
Calixte also complimented the Department of Youth Development and Sports for sticking with the programme and making sure that from what has worked over the last four years that Team Saint Lucia will continue to reap success.
“Having won the tournament for the last four years has been no easy feat and when you work hard you reap success. You have put in the hard work and no doubt Team Saint Lucia will retain the championship,” he noted.
Also addressing the young cricketers and parents who attended the ceremony was senior Youth and Sports Officer — now in an acting capacity as Sports Director — Patrick Mathurin, who said: “The Department is happy to be involved in the preparation of this team and we will continue to assist in whatever way we can to ensure you are as well-prepared as you can be to go out there and represent Saint Lucia.”
Meanwhile, team captain Akeem Auguste thanked the many persons who worked with the entire squad during their preparation. He also pledged the team’s commitment to excelling at the tournament.
“It is an honour to serve you 12 outstanding young men and, by extension, the people of Saint Lucia,” Auguste said. “Our responsibility is to only do one thing, and that is to give our best at all times. We started with 84 players and today 13 of us are here. Never doubt that you have earned the right to wear our national colours. Let’s embrace this opportunity and make our nation proud by giving 150 percent at all times.”