On Thursday October 21, 2021, Republic Bank celebrated the successful launch of its Five for Fun Youth Cricket initiative, by honoring the 1st and 2nd place winners at a prize giving ceremony.
“Five for Fun” is a new concept of an Under 12 short-format cricket, designed for both boys and girls at primary school, arising out of a collaboration between Republic Bank and Cricket West Indies (CWI). Five for Fun provides a pathway and regional coaching framework for aspiring players, ensuring that children not only have access to cricket at the primary school level, promoting the game in a fun, safe, player centered environment, but also providing opportunities through cricket for social and life-skills development.
The ‘Five for Fun’ concept, which entails five top zonal teams participating in a festival final, with each team comprising five players, competing in a two innings (5-overs per innings) format, took place during the school’s summer holidays. The inaugural tournament was held in St. Lucia and the Bank intends to roll it out to other territories within the group in the upcoming years.
Zone 5 River Doree Anglican Combined School in Choiseul emerged as the first ever “Five for Fun” Champions with Zone 2 Millet Primary School, taking second place.
Among those in attendance at the prize giving ceremony for the budding sportsmen and sportswomen were Minister for Youth Development and Sports, the Honorable Kenson Joel Casimir, Mr. Carol Henry President and Mr. Simmons Jules, 2nd Vice President of the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association.
In her Opening Address, Managing Director of Republic Bank (EC), and avid cricket lover, Ms. Michelle Palmer, expressed her depth of feeling when witnessing first-hand the power of the Spirit of Caribbean Cricket- “how this marvelous Caribbean past time, this sport brings us all together as a people and also develop in our youth, athleticism, discipline, team spirit and sportsmanship”.
She provided the context and inspiration behind Republic Bank’s support of Caribbean Cricket beyond its seven (7) year run as the official banking partner of the Caribbean Premiere League (CPL) T20. “At Republic Bank, we wanted to create an evergreen, sustainable cricket culture from which would emerge the cricket stars of tomorrow. Thus, Five For Fun was created. This collaboration between Republic Bank and CWI is further amplified with the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association endorsed by the Government of Saint Lucia, providing local coordination and execution of the initiative.
For the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association’s part, Mr. Carol Henry was extremely pleased that Saint Lucia was chosen as the island for the pilot acknowledging that programs like “5 for Fun” are vital portals for early identification of prodigies in the sport so they can be given a pathway to greater CWI coaching and engagement. The Association’s 2nd Vice President also expressed his gratitude that Saint Lucia was selected to pilot this programme, recognizing that both CWI and Republic Bank could have opted for any island in the Caribbean and that the planting of this seed was not only timely for cricket development in Saint Lucia but will be magnified and produce magic in the future.
The Minister for Youth Development and Sports, the Honorable Kenson Joel Casimir, enthused by the innovative form of Corporate Social Responsibility demonstrated by Republic Bank, thanked them for nurturing future national cricket greats, recognizing that investment in the youth demonstrates a clear understanding of sports development. He also acknowledged the efforts of both Republic Bank and the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association in rising above the challenges of not only hosting such a pilot but doing so during the pandemic and urged the students to make the fullest use of such opportunities.
The focal point of the prize-giving was the children who were very grateful for the opportunity to get out and play with their schoolmates during the pandemic even if it meant following strict health protocols. Coaches expressed deep gratitude for the engagement and praised their teams’ hard work. They urged parents, especially of girls to encourage their children to get out and play cricket, citing the many opportunities that are opening up for youth in the sport.
All players of the winning teams were awarded individual prizes in addition to their team trophies. The Minister was also honored with a token of Republic Bank’s appreciation in the form of a CPL T20 Signature Cricket Bat to mark the beginning of an enduring relationship with Five for Fun.
The crowning news of the prize giving ceremony was the announcement by Republic Bank’s Managing Director that, given the success of St Lucia’s pilot, the goal now, is to roll out Five for Fun to the Bank’s other territories, stating that “As a regional bank, we at Republic Bank are committed to creating deeper regional integration through cricket, to drive sporting unity with courage, passion and love, because we firmly believe that creating new opportunities in cricket at the grass roots level is what will keep us at the top of our game in global cricket.”