Friday, April 12, 2024

‘Proactive leadership needed’


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Long-serving Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) board member Conde Riley, who has been first vice-president since 2007, is challenging Joel Garner for the BCA presidency at Wednesday’s special meeting of members at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. Ahead of that meeting, THE NATION’s senior reporter Ezra Stuart interviewed Riley.
STUART: You have served on the BCA Board for 18 years from 1996 and also as first vice-president from 2007. Why have you decided to run for the presidency of the BCA at this time?
RILEY: At this juncture the BCA is in need of a proactive style of leadership that will reinvigorate and rejuvenate the game of cricket in Barbados. The BCA is an organization that is now 121 years old and over those years it has served Barbados and the West Indies cricket well. However, it is widely recognized that the world in which we live has changed, and the modalities for the effective and efficient management of a national sporting organization have also changed.
A new structure of corporate governance is required in the BCA to manage the development of the young men and women who play cricket that would allow Barbados to become the hub for the professional cricketer in the region while at the same time bring ultimate satisfaction to our constituent members, clubs and schools through their involvement in cricket.
STUART: You have been recognized as the one who has spearheaded the BCA’s five-year cricket development programme under the current regime. What else has prepared you for this move to lead the BCA as its president?
RILEY: I was professionally trained as an investment banker, licensed stock-broker and administrative corporate secretary with Barclays Bank and this has tailored my perspective on the management of risks, the identification of new investment opportunities and how to manage corporate entities.
I have not only chaired the cricket development committee of the BCA but also two other critical committees – investments and lottery. I have also served the ICC (International Cricket Council) as the event manager for Barbados on the occasion of the ICC T20 World Cup 2010. I currently serve on the WICB’s cricket development, provident fund and CPL committees.
This experience on the BCA and WICB boards and the leadership I have given to the critical committees on these boards have placed me in an excellent position to lead the BCA in this phase of transition.
STUART: What is the nature of this transition you intend to lead as BCA president?
RILEY: Cricket is a big business and must be run by a competent professional management and led and inspired by a board that sees the broad vistas of business opportunity for the BCA and the cricketer. The days for volunteers coming onto the board have long past us. If the present structure of the BCA is maintained, we run the risk of seeing our output in cricket outstrip our ability to manage our resources and a lot of talent and investment wasted.
For example, the present Barbados senior squad has an average age of 23 and we have players coming out of the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre and our Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence annually. With more young talent coming out every year, it is essential that the BCA moves to eliminate the potential bottlenecks that can frustrate young players’ interest in the game. That is why a Barbados A Team has been created to maintain the focus and interest of this valuable and vulnerable age group.
STUART: So what exactly would a Conde Riley presidency mean for the BCA, and Barbados cricket?
RILEY: My presidency will see more work being put into to what I conceive as the critical areas: (i) sustaining the revenue streams into the BCA so as to support the current development initiatives; (ii) an aggressive marketing campaign to secure sponsorship and commercial rights and opportunities in cricket; (iii) the creation of a semi-professional league in Barbados; (iv) an indoor sporting facility at Kensington Oval equipped with a first-class sports gym that creates business opportunities for the BCA; (v) the attachments and placements with the counties and leagues oversees, not only in England, but internationally; (vi) the enhancement of cricket in the communities across Barbados using our junior level clubs; (vii) establishment of a MOU with the Cricket Legends of Barbados in the promotion of the game and maintenance of the legacy of the Barbados brand; (viii) improved facilities and opportunities for involvement of BCA members and (ix) enhancing the revenue and commercial opportunities for Kensington Oval and making the facility “green”, energy-efficient and well-maintained.
STUART: How do you propose that cricket be developed and enhanced at the community level in Barbados?
RILEY: We need to set new benchmarks for our local clubs and a lot more work has to go into the development of club cricket as that is where our young cricketers will end up after leaving school. The clubs at the lower levels in certain communities across the island should be given the necessary tools to run youth development clinics that feed into the Elite and First Division Clubs. I want to see a programme led by our BCA territorial development officer using the 20 BCA contracted players (men and women) going out to these community clubs.
STUART: What do you have in store for the members of the BCA?
RILEY: The upgrade of the members’ area in the 3Ws Stand has to be a priority of the new BCA board of management. There is no bathroom facility or recreational area on the members’ level and this will be rectified. Additionally, in the drive to lure more sponsorship for Barbados cricket, the BCA will aggressively negotiate more benefits in terms of discounts with sponsors and commercial partners as part of the rewards of a BCA membership.
STUART: The Government of Barbados currently owes the BCA in excess of $4 million on the lease for Kensington Oval. What plans do you have to recover this debt?
RILEY: The Government is a commercial partner of the BCA and we are not unmindful of the current economic climate which has made it difficult for Kensington Development Corporation (KDC) to honour its commitment under the lease. I believe that the debt owed will be honoured and the BCA has to continue working with KDC and the Ministry of Finance in this regard. Kensington Oval is a national treasure and that investment has to be managed.
The BCA has to be ready with a commercial plan of action should the Government decide that it wants to terminate the lease and relinquish the management of Kensington through KOMI back to the BCA. I have already began to look at how the possible return of Kensington to the BCA will impact on the delivery of our cricket development initiatives and hence the reason why I believe that the BCA should act now to help KOMI enhance its revenue and commercial possibilities and also reduce its expenditure, by becoming more green and energy-efficient.
STUART: Do you intend to stand for your current position of first vice-president should you not succeed in your quest to unseat the president Joel Garner?
RILEY: I intend to run for the office of president of the BCA only.
STUART: So if you lose to Garner, you will no longer be on the BCA board?
RILEY: I am fully confident that my association with the BCA board will continue with me as the next president of the BCA.
EDITOR’S NOTE: When contacted, Joel Garner declined an interview with NATION associate editor (sport) Haydn Gill.

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