Cricket boss happy with SLCA’s strides in 2019

20 January 2020 at 19:07 | 2979 views

By Daniel Oldfield, Edmonton, Canada

The chief executive officer of the Sierra Leone Cricket Association, Francis Trevor Samura, has expressed delight and pride in looking back at the past year 2019. Speaking from Freetown recently, the CEO cataloged several achievements by SLCA, saying the association made great strides despite its cash constraints and other challenges.

Trevor Samura thanked SLCA’s chairman Beresford Bournes-Coker, other members of the board of directors, and cricket match officials, clubs, and players. He praised them for the key roles they played in promoting the sport. The CEO also acknowledged donors and sponsors, as well as the International Cricket Council (ICC), the global governing body of the sport.

SLCA was able to honour only two International competitions in 2019, due to financial limitations. The association’s Boys U-19 team participated in the ICC’s U-19 Cricket World Cup Africa qualifiers. The event took place in Namibia in March and April last year. Trevor Samura noted that although the boys didn’t qualify for the finals, they placed fourth, ahead of strong contenders like Kenya and Tanzania. “Their performance helps to improve the squad’s rankings globally,” he said.

The CEO also cited the only other international competition at which Sierra Leone fielded a national squad. For the first time, the Women’s National Cricket team participated in the ICC African Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup qualifiers. Sierra Leone’s ladies were drawn in the same group as hosts Zimbabwe. “Even though our ladies didn’t fare as well as we had hoped, the experience boosted the team’s confidence for future competitions,” he observed.

Sierra Leonean female cricketers at an international competition in Banjul, the Gambia

Another major achievement by SLCA in 2019 was the holding of coaching clinics at several schools. Also, the association organized the training of 50 coaches and 50 umpires locally. The aim of that exercise, Trevor Samura said, was to meet growing demand for club and match officials. “The number of teams is expected to grow this coming season,” he disclosed. “So, we have to prepare as a national association.” Thirdly, Sierra Leone sent two coaches and two umpires to attend the ICC-sponsored Certified Cricket/Umpires Facilitators Training Programme in Abuja, Nigeria. Trevor Samura reported that one coach excelled in the programme. “He did so well, we plan to sponsor him for the more challenging Level Two course.”
For the first time ever, the Sierra Leone Cricket Association organised its maiden Youth Club Cricket competition on a full ODI format. This was in keeping with ICC standards for participation in the U-19 World Cup qualifiers. The ICC requires that all national associations seeking to participate in U-19 Cricket World Cup qualifiers must first organize a domestic youth league competition. The contest would be the pathway to the qualifying phase. The SLCA youth competition featured eight teams, with Midwest Cricket Club emerging as winners. There were also the men’s and women’s editions of the T20 Cricket Premier League. Sierra Leone Police (SLP) won the women’s contest. In the men’s edition, defending champions Asian Lions won the title.

School girls in Sierra Leone learning ball handling in a cricket clinic

The CEO announced yet another big achievement by the association. It was the construction of the Prince of Wales (P.O.W) School Cricket field at Kingtom, in 2019. This project is now complete. It comprises a 300-capacity spectators’ stand, two dugouts, dressing rooms, and toilets. Construction was facilitated largely through the services of Martyn Michael, vice-chairman of SLCA. Michael is also a top executive of Mercury International. He performed the turning of the sod, at the ceremony to signal the start of construction.

The most spectacular highlight of the year was probably the tour of Sierra Leone by England’s Marylebone Cricket Club. MCC played a couple of matches with Sierra Leone’s Men’s national team, The Patriots. It was MCC’s first visit in 16 years and the team went to different parts of Sierra Leone, including Njala. The excursion was partly sponsored by the ICC. Local sponsors included firms like Mercury International and Shankerdas.

“To cap it all, our association acquired a piece of land at Njala,” Trevor Samura reflects. The CEO said the plot, located at Mokonde, is for the association to build facilities that will help revive cricket at Njala University, and at schools and communities in the area.

The SLCA chief executive is optimistic for cricket in Sierra Leone, as he looks ahead into 2020.