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Story Highlights

  • Minister with responsibility for Sport, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, has heaped praises on the Chris Gayle Academy for its transformative work in using cricket to foster the personal and professional growth of disadvantaged youth.
  • The academy, launched last year, is an initiative by the Chris Gayle Foundation, and targets youngsters between the ages of 16 and 22 years.
  • Twenty-two young men were trained through the programme over the past year in cricket, academics and lifeskills.

Minister with responsibility for Sport, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, has heaped praises on the Chris Gayle Academy for its transformative work in using cricket to foster the personal and professional growth of disadvantaged youth.

The academy, launched last year, is an initiative by the Chris Gayle Foundation, and targets youngsters between the ages of 16 and 22 years. Twenty-two young men were trained through the programme over the past year in cricket, academics and lifeskills.

“We are pleased with the principles upon which the training and development of our young people is built and we partner and support anything that augurs well for the development of our youth through sports,” Mrs. Neita Headley said.

She was speaking to JIS News, ahead of the academy’s graduation exercise and fundraising dinner on Wednesday, July 8, at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

West Indies Cricketer and Founder of the foundation and academy, Chris Gayle, said the programme has been doing “exceptionally well” and that the fundraising dinner was to ensure its sustainability for the future.

“This programme is not only about cricket and about creating the best cricketer. It’s all about life on a whole. Some of these guys have personal issues or are from unstable backgrounds. We try and use the cricket as a weapon to be able to get everyone to unify. We are just trying to help them out of a bad situation by teaching them life skills, so they can go about [creating a better life for themselves],” Mr. Gayle said.

He announced that he intends to take the youngsters on a trip to England to compete against the Chris Gayle Academy there, which operates through non-government organisation, The Change Foundation.

The United Kingdom (UK)-based foundation was instrumental in helping the local body develop its training programmes.

The Chris Gayle Academy is based at the Lucas Cricket Club in Kingston, and the youngsters meet twice a week for cricket coaching, lessons in mathematics, English, etiquette, public speaking and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They are also involved in a mentorship programme, as well as workshops on career development and health.

At least three of the young men have been selected to play for the Jamaica Under 17 Cricket Team and two for the Under 19 Team.

“They can use this experience and come back and work within the programme as well, and they can pass on the information and skills they have gathered throughout the year and be a coach and a leader, to give motivation to others,” Mr. Gayle said.

Mrs. Neita Headley said the Government endorses the Chris Gayle Foundation and what it has sought to do through the development of the academy.

“This is extremely valuable, primarily because of the difficulties we face as a nation with the social ills and the unattached youth in our society,” she said.

“Any programme, which seeks to pull them out of that kind of situation, train them in ways which allow them to not only learn in a classroom setting, but to enjoy what it is they are doing, while they are training and while they are learning good values and good principles, really helps to allow for our society to become a better society,” she noted.