Amongst the prominent names attending the opening of the first local all girls cricket club was former England captain Mike Gatting, Royals women captain Hayley Matthews, former West Indies cricketer Stacey-Ann King, Minister of Sport Charles Griffith, Cultural Ambassador of Barbados Dr Stedson Wiltshire, MP for St Michael South Central Marsha Caddle and the first black man to play for England Roland Butcher.
Griffith said he was proud to see such a momentous event happening in Barbados, especially during his tenure as Minister of Sport because of the impact the club can have on young people.
“This is the year of the youth,” he began “and what better way is there [to acknowledge that] than to have youth in Will [Gaffney] bringing a programme to impact our youth here on the island. Cricket is embedded in our sports policy and the Sports Council is developing some practice nets at our old location and it would be good to see some of these young ladies because it is being constructed primarily for our young people to have somewhere to play cricket.”
Gaffney is the founder of the United Kingdom (UK) charity Bats for a Chance and helped bring the idea come to life.
Griffith also announced Government’s support to the club so that it becomes a mainstay in Barbados, beginning with the offer to help source the 100 girls that the club aims to empower.
“One of the things that I can assure you is that the Government will make sure that every single thing is put in place to make sure these young ladies succeed and that your programme goes from strength to strength. Maybe in the not too distant future you will see some of the diamonds who are out on this field emerging and that is the result we are looking for at the end of the day.”
Local cricketing superstar Matthews was delighted at the project launch, commenting that it was something she would have loved to have growing up.
“I think it is huge. It is something that we definitely needed in Barbados for a long time now and I think that to be able to give young girls from age six and up the opportunity to be able to come out here and fall in love with the game of cricket is a great first step in Barbados and hopefully we can see stuff like this moving forward,” said the right handed opener.
Founder of the charity, Gaffney, spoke on the importance of empowering young women in society and how the club was an opportunity to do that in Barbados.
“This initiative is a testament to our dedication to creating opportunities and breaking down barriers, which is what BFAC is all about. We are also delighted to be working with Virgin Cargo and Woodland Group who are assisting us with the provision of [a] kit for the girls in Barbados. We are hugely grateful to them for their continued support across the world,” the 19-year-old said.
Forty students from the Christ Church Girls School had the honour of being the first participants to receive specialised training from qualified coaches with the session being coordinated by Kirstin Smith, a qualified Level Two coach at The Cricket Asylum which is based in West Yorkshire.