Clubs urged to find ways to preserve culture


STEVEN LESLIE is urging local cricket institutions, including the Empire club, to find creative ways of preserving club culture and executing their short and long-term visions. The manager of marketing and communications at the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) made these assertions in the club’s 109th anniversary cricket lecture on Tuesday night at the Empire clubhouse in Bank Hall, St Michael.

On the topic “Unity Is Strength: Challenges In The Club System”, Leslie identified several issues plaguing the community and longevity of cricket clubs on the island. “In 2023, many persons join clubs just to express their sporting talent. They are not interested in the sustenance and growth of the club. You may put together an event and some individuals will come and play their game, and within 30 minutes they go to their devices and then leave the club,” said Leslie who urged the audience to document the success stories of their club.

“It is critical to understand that sometimes in this part of the world, we do not document excellence. When you come to documenting your success and your excellence then there is something for other generations to look at.”

The featured speaker also touched on the importance of a club’s financial viability. Drawing on his experience gained as the BCA’s first-ever director of cricket from 2015-2020, Leslie highlighted that member subscriptions cannot alone maintain and propel a club to higher heights.

Viable revenue generating model

“The reality is such that to have a sustainable club you must have a viable finance revenue generating model. It cannot rely solely on the subscriptions that might be paid on an annual basis, and it cannot rely solely on having social activities. Those strategies are not going to allow a club to be able to be sustainable in 2023.”

Leslie lamented a shift of priorities by the educators in the school system. He believes the old-school philosophy of headmasters and teachers focusing on sport, specifically cricket, has contributed to the vibrance of club cricket.

“There has been a change in focus by the educators within the secondary school system.

In the 1860s there was a deliberateness to have principals indoctrinating cricket into the system where everybody felt that they had to be part of it. Fast forward to 2023, it could very well be a case where most of our educators are interested in getting the school curriculum completed,” said Leslie who acknowledged the contributions of the physical education (PE) teachers but questioned the overall focus.

“Within the primary and secondary school system in this country, there should be an opportunity within the curriculum for exposure, a certificate or a subject dealing with the importance of cricket and sports to our development.”

Leslie further asked patrons to abandon the opinion that a cricket club is just an old boys league, while underlining the relevance of women taking up crucial roles in leadership and policy-making which guide the club’s future.

In his well-researched delivery, Leslie paid tribute to Empire founding member Herman Griffith who established the club in 1914, while highlighting the four knights of the club: Sir Conrad Hunte, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Charles Griffith.

Empire has produced 16 Test cricketers.

FROM LEFT: Jeremy Alleyne (Empire assistant secretary), Melvin ‘Ibo’ Oxley (Empire president), Steven Leslie (marketing and communications manager at the Barbados Cricket Association), and Antoinette Arthur

(Empire secretary). (Picture by Rohansonn Waithe.)