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Cricket Boss Call For Peace, Unity

PRESIDENT of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board Azim Bassarath has made s stirring and passionate appeal for unity in the local cricket fraternity. He did so on Saturday at the annual TTCB awards function which was staged for team champions and  “Cricketers of the Year” who participated in the 2017 season. The event was […]

PRESIDENT of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board Azim Bassarath has made s stirring and passionate appeal for unity in the local cricket fraternity.

He did so on Saturday at the annual TTCB awards function which was staged for team champions and  “Cricketers of the Year” who participated in the 2017 season.

The event was held in the auditorium of the Brian Lara Stadium at Tarouba and attracted a large cross-section of the local cricket community.

The TTCB, led by Bassarath, has been taken to court by a group of officials of the National League who are challenging the ruling body’s constitution.

But on Saturday, Bassarath said cricket is not being best served by litigation and called on all parties to bury the hatchet and work together for the benefit of cricket.

Following is the full text of the speech:

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome each and every one of you to this, the second part of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board’s Presentation of Awards Function 2017.
It is an historic occasion, as this function is the first of its kind being staged at the still new Brian Lara Cricket Stadium, here in Tarouba.
We have no hesitation in stating our satisfaction in having the impressive cricket facility opened to the public of Trinidad and Tobago.
The TTCB was more than happy to have played its part in helping to secure certification from the regional authorities, which allows the venue to host regional and international matches.
History will record that the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board has championed the cause, on behalf of cricketers and fans, to have the stadium opened and put an end to the controversy that has dogged it for more than a decade.
In many ways the BLCS epitomises the struggle that the TTCB has waged for 37 years since the administration of the sport was legally handed over to the people of this nation.
Since that momentous day in 1980, successive cricket administrations have made it a priority to put the game and those who play it, at the forefront of its development plan.
Observers of the sport will note its progress over the years where we have moved from ground zero to establishing the Red Force as one of the hottest cricket brands in world cricket.
Everyone involved in the sport, especially parents, teachers, coaches and administrators, will attest to the sacrifices that have to be made in this remarkable journey.
Yet it gives us great joy and pride when our sportsmen and women achieve their fullest potential and provide so much pride and joy to their families, friends, communities and our nation.
But one year on from our last Awards Function, cricket is precariously placed on an entirely different landscape.
We are facing some of the biggest ever threats to the growth and development of the game, which, if not handled well can have wide and far-reaching consequences.

At the top of the list is the dwindling availability of funds which has reached an alarming stage, despite the best efforts of the TTCB.

Over the years, the development programme has been facilitated by a combination of prudent and skilful management and partnerships with responsible corporate bodies. You may have noticed that I did not make mention of government grants.

It is an established fact that in the past several years, our highly successful strategic plans have taken Trinidad and Tobago to an enviable and lofty position in regional cricket.

In the process, the course charted by the TTCB has elevated the status of numerous talented sons and daughters of the soil who have now become household names in world cricket, especially in the T20 format.

This has been achieved through the hard work of a dedicated cadre of volunteers on the board, who have devoted their lives and unique skills to the upliftment of cricket and the creation of opportunities for our youth.

So far in the recent past, despite our pleadings and pain-staking representation for our clubs and communities, the TTCB has been “running on fumes,” to use an appropriate slang.

But I give you the reassurance here today, that the foundation of our cricket success remains solidly intact.

This includes our four Age Group Inter-Zone competitions, the Grassroots Programme, the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket Programme, the National League Premier I and II competitions, the National League Championship Division competitions, the Zonal Championship competitions,

the T20 Championship for Premiership I and II clubs and the Club T20 for Championship teams.

So, while the sturdy structure of local cricket remains tall and strong, able to withstand unjustified attacks on its integrity, there is a much more sinister assault for the soul of national cricket.

This fight has reached the court of law and has had a very negative and debilitating effect on the sport, tarnishing the efforts of its hardworking administrators, and placing the future of our young cricketers in jeopardy.

I want to impress upon you here that as the Chief Servant of the TTCB, I am extending an olive branch to all those who are contributing to the quagmire that we find ourselves in.

Friends, a house divided cannot stand and will fall apart as soon as the first hard breeze blows.

We have come too far to let personal opinions and personalities get in the way of progress and development.

We need to be unified in the best interest of cricket, pooling our resources to create a better future.

As leaders, people have placed a sacred trust in us to do what is best for them, and we have a duty to honour that confidence, by working in a responsible and praise-worthy way.

I admit that in any endeavour, there will be differences of opinion but mature and right-thinking individuals must not allow this to get in the way of national development.

When we fight among ourselves, cricket suffers and we can ill-afford to play loose with the gains we have made for the game, its players and supporters over the past 37 years.

It is foolhardy, and some may say irresponsible, that valuable resources of the TTCB should be expended in legal skirmishes.

In this guava season, we need more than ever to come together and work towards building bridges, and setting a better example for our people.

I am keenly aware that the public has been paying special attention to what has been happening, and how we have been conducting ourselves.

So I want to reiterate my commitment to all parties, and to the national public, my commitment to working with all to reach an amicable solution to the issues which have led to this present stalemate.

Indeed, the TTCB, in response to the concerns raised, has set up a committee led by a learned judge, and comprising a university lecturer and a respected former TTCB president, to go into the communities and garner responses and suggestions to make the cricket product better.

We trust that the public would have availed themselves of the opportunity to let their voices be heard and make a tangible impact on how the game is best structured to conform with accepted standards, and also address our unique circumstances in the process.

Our cricket administration is a work in progress and the board has been consistently reviewing its plans, programmes, and governance structure, as prevailing situations evolve.

We are satisfied that we have the best people involved in the current process, and are highly optimistic that united, we can reach a desired solution on all sides.

Our watchwords have been accountability and transparency, and as a national sporting organisation, we have set the standard for all others to follow.

This has been confirmed by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and its Minister the Honourable Mr. Darryl Smith.

We will continue to press forward to ensure that our cricket rises above the turmoil and like gold, is refined and purified by the extreme heat it is exposed to.

The TTCB will continue to forge important alliances with our loyal and responsible corporate entities to ensure our national programmes continue with minimal disruption.

We will maintain close ties with our zones including the affiliates, the Tobago Cricket Association, the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Cricket Association, the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Umpires and Scorers’ Council and the Primary and Secondary Schools’ Cricket Leagues.

Our 2018 regional season has already started and we are already seeing an encouraging and improved performance from the Red Force in the 4-Day Competition.

A new technical team led by an immensely experienced head coach are in place, and working with a common objective.

So everything considered, the new cricket season promises to be exciting for all our stakeholders.

We want you to join with us in holding the faith and help us to keep the game safe and strong.

Let me once again congratulate all our awardees here tonight, as it is justifiable acknowledgement of your outstanding efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you.

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