“It is a downright shame and disgrace!” Ford: Arima cricket deserves better

Gems at Lajoya

“[…] Today it is indeed pathetic to see the young [Fulham] cricketers play without a pavilion, no changing or toilet facilities, and nowhere to store their equipment.

“The same applies to Agents at the Rehab Centre… A promise was made to construct [a] pavilion and provide a motor roller to maintain the pitch and outfield. They never heard from Sports Company again…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the “current unfortunate situation” facing long-standing Arima cricket clubs, Fulham and Agents, was submitted to Wired868 by former Arima Mayor and MP Ashton Ford:

The Agents Reserve Team prepare for action at the Rehabilitation Centre, Tumpuna Road.
(via Agents Sports Club)

The Fulham and Agents cricket teams are currently participating in the Senior Division of the East Zone under the auspices of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB).

Both teams play their home games in Arima. Fulham use the Princess Royal Park while Agents play at the Rehabilitation Centre on Tumpuna Road, Arima.

Both clubs are long standing organisations in Arima, having played first in the then Arima District Cricket Association (ADCA) until the TTBC took control of the game in Trinidad and Tobago.

Arima was the mecca of sports in the east and in cricket we were proud to produce cricketers who played at the national, regional and international level.

West Indies spinner Sunil Narine prepares to bowl against New Zealand at Seddon Park, Hamilton on 21 December 2013.
Narine, one of the best spinners of his generation, is a former Arima Boys RC cricketer.
(Copyright AFP 2014/ Michael Bradley)

The Princess Royal Park venue was host to local games organised by ADCA in three divisions: Championship, Second and Intermediate. The competitions in all divisions catered for clubs from Sangre Grande to Tacarigua, and when the matches were played the supporters from the respective districts came out in large numbers to support their teams.

The introduction of the Wes Hall Youth League in the late sixties was a major factor in exposing the young cricketers who went on to represent Trinidad and Tobago and later West Indies.

The under-19 tournament saw players like the Gomes brothers, Sheldon and Larry, and Prakash Bachew, among a battery of youths who competed against some equally talented youngsters in the other zones.

West Indies batsman Larry Gomes (right) on the go against England.
(Copyright Wisden)

Players like Prince Bartholomew, Phil Simmons, Alex Burns, Jack Noreiga, and Jaswick Taylor among others established themselves in the local competitions. But in order to catch the national selectors’ eyes, they had to play for teams in Port of Spain.

Bartholomew went on to play for Paragon and because he was an outstanding all-rounder, he was elected captain of the team. As he continued to excel he represented Trinidad and Tobago and later became captain of the national team.

Simmons also played for Paragon before his selection in the Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies teams. He later became the coach of the regional squad.

Former opening batsman Phil Simmons represented West Indies between 1987 and 1999.
(Copyright Reuters)

Noreiga played for West Indies and established a world record when he took 9 wickets for 95 runs in a Test match against India.

Later on the Gomes brothers, Burns and Harold Joseph represented Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies and many years later Arima produced talents like Sunil Narine, Kevon Cooper and currently Jeremy Solozano.

On a personal note Larry Gomes, who hailed from my neighborhood and played for Sporting Club, became a fixture on the West Indies Cricket Team and was honoured by the government when the stadium in Arima south was named after him.

I wish to note here that this is a football and athletics stadium.

T&T Red Force opener Jeremy Solozano drives the ball powerfully through the off-side during WI Championship action against the Windward Island Volcanoes at Tarouba on 15 February 2022.
Solozano is another Arima-bred cricketer.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

Arima also dominated the competitions at the secondary and primary school level to the extent that the Arima Boys’ Roman Catholic Primary School (ABRC) won the national football title on eight straight occasions—a feat I dare say is impossible to accomplish by any other school in Trinidad and Tobago.

The school also won a national cricket title.

As coach of ABRC, who was responsible for this outstanding achievement of nine wins, Danny Ruiz died recently and never got the recognition he deserved from any of the national bodies—mainly the Primary School football committee, TTUTA, and TTCB.

This brings me back to Fulham and Agents and their current unfortunate situation as they compete in the Senior Division of the East Zone of TTCB competition.

Young boys and girls are introduced to the game of cricket in Arima during a Fulham training session.
(via Fulham Sports Club)

First, Fulham, as stated earlier, play at a venue that saw many international games with teams from England, India and the Caribbean.

Today it is indeed pathetic to see the young cricketers play without a pavilion, no changing or toilet facilities, and nowhere to store their equipment.

The same applies to Agents at the Rehab Centre. There are absolutely no facilities there, and what is worse is that a kind resident who allowed them to store their equipment has asked the team to find another place because they have to attend to personal family business.

Fulham are fortunate to have the Arima Borough maintain the turf and outfield but Agents take care of the ground at their own expense.

Agents Reserve Team openers Rashed George (left) and Mark Kangalee get ready for action at the Rehabilitation Centre, Tumpuna Road.
(via Agents Sports Club)

Sometime in 2009, the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago assisted in laying the turf wicket for Agents and redeveloped the entire outfield. A promise was made to construct the pavilion and provide a motor roller to maintain the pitch and outfield. They never heard from Sports Company again.

I must point out that both clubs are not fly-by-night organizations. Fulham were established in 1956 (67 years ago) and participated in all sporting activities in Arima while Agents were founded in 1969 (54 years ago).

It is a downright shame and disgrace for two outstanding clubs to be treated in such a manner after making such tremendous contributions in sports and keeping the young people involved in the sporting arena—in the face of the onslaught of crime that prevails in the country today.

Cricket at the Princess Royal Park in Arima.
(via Arima We For)

I am also making an appeal to the TTCB to be transparent in order to govern the game in a more equatable manner.

The perception in Arima and surrounding districts is that the TTCB only pays attention to the North, South/ Central and Tobago areas.

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