The Minister of Education, Sports and the Creative Industries, the Honourable Daryll Matthew, has participated in a series of meetings organised by the High Commission with various educational and sporting institutions in the United Kingdom.
The engagements sought to advance opportunities for Antigua and Barbuda following the under 19 cricket team’s inaugural summer tour of the UK. The sporting institutions visited were directly involved in the cricket team’s tour and expressed interest in developing a deeper relationship with Antigua and Barbuda.
Minister Matthew, accompanied by High Commissioner Karen-Mae Hill, met with two of the United Kingdom’s most outstanding educational and sporting institutions. At the Harrow School, meetings were held with Johny Marsden, Mathematics Master and Master in Charge of Cricket, and Natalya Silcott, Mathematics Master and Awards Registrar. The Harrow School has proposed two funded placements for young Antiguan and Barbudan cricketers to spend a term at the school from April to June 2024.
The selected cricketers (one aged 13 and the other aged 14) will be immersed in academic studies while training and playing cricket with the Harrow School Cricket Club. Harrow is one of the UK’s most prestigious schools renowned for its first class sports programmes and academic rigour. It has educated several Nobel prize laureates including Sir Winston Churchill. The selection process will be led by Senator Shenella Govia and supported by the Harrow School.
The second meeting was held with Director of Sport Richard Wheater and Senior Performance Programme Manager at Loughborough University. Loughborough University is ranked in the top 10 of UK universities. It is recognised as the best university in the UK for sports. Minister Matthew explored opportunities for elite athletes from Antigua and Barbuda to secure scholarships to the University.
He also discussed the possibility of developing bespoke training programmes initially for football and cricket coaches employed by the Ministry of Sport to further develop their technical capacity.
The meeting also discussed a planned cricket tour to Antigua and Barbuda in March 2024 of a Loughborough University cricket team. The Antigua and Barbuda under 19 team spent a week at the University in August and played their first fixture against a Loughborough University X1.
Meetings were also held with Hertfordshire County Cricket Club (HCCC) and the ACE Programme. These meetings will continue as plans to develop an exchange and capacity building programme for players and coaches are discussed.
The ACE programme seeks to identify and introduce African and Caribbean players to cricket. An invitation has been extended to the ACE programme to tour Antigua and Barbuda in 2025. ACE was represented by Chevy Greene, Director of Programmes and HCCC by its CEO Ian Fletcher and Gulfraz Riaz, Equalit, Diversity and Inclusion Officer.
In a shift away from sport, the Minister met with the founders of Caribbean Elective, Sergio Fedee and Harry Spear. Caribbean Elective is a non-profit organisation that provides UK college and university students with UK government funded internship opportunities around the world. Since its launch in 2016, over 3000 UK students have travelled to St. Lucia where they participated in several programmes on the island to include working in the local hospitals and with the Legal Aid Department.
Antigua and Barbuda will be the second and newest Caribbean country added to Caribbean Elective programme. The first students will visit the island in February 2024.
Minister Matthew noted that the under 19 cricket tour was not planned to be a one off, box ticking exercise. He noted that the tour “was designed to expose our cricket players and administrative staff to playing cricket in different conditions. It was also designed to identify new development partners. In both regards, this first tour was a huge success. The Government looks forward to the second tour in summer 2024”.
Minister Matthew also commended High Commissioner Hill and her office for partnering with his Ministry and for leveraging its diplomatic presence in the UK to foster and develop new opportunities for the people of the country. More information on the specifics of these programmes will be released by the Ministry of Education, Sports and the Creative Industries in the coming months.
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