Cricket is one of the world’s fastest growing sports across non-playing nations. Trinidad and Tobago has a rich cricket history, and the University of Trinidad and Tobago cricket team is working to a strong heritage for the future.
Cricket is, by some measures, the second most popular sport in the world. There are no official numbers available to track the popularity of sports outside of youth participation and television coverage. Based upon these factors, football (or soccer) leads the way with 3.3 to 3.5 billion fans from all corners of the globe. By most accounts, cricket is number two with around 2.5 billion fans in India, Pakistan, Asia, Australia, the UK, and the West Indies.
With the successful conclusion of the 2015 Cricket World Cup this past March, the sport’s international profile continues to grow. As it does, new programs are finding more chances to expand, and help grow talented players and well-rounded citizens. The University of Trinidad & Tobago’s (UTT) cricket team recently visited the UK, and the program’s growth and development was very much on display.
The accomplishments of the UTT cricket team to date, such as its T20 championship in 2011, are immensely impressive due to the foundations laid in its youth development of program. The University of Trinidad and Tobago first opened its doors in 2005, with the cricket team formed not too long after. For a program that has only one decade of experience under its belt, developing a successful cricket program so quickly is nothing short of amazing.
Daren Ganga: Senior Manager of Sport and Recreation at UTT
Daren Ganga knows a little something about the sport of cricket. In 2007, he was the captain of the West Indies cricket team and played for his national cricket team for 10 years, including time as the captain. Ganga heads a group of iconic sports professionals from the Caribbean helping guide the athletic programs at UTT and shape the young men and women performing for the school.
The UTT cricket team plays in the domestic club circuit in Trinidad and Tobago, just like all of the other teams (volleyball, football, etc.) from the school. The goal of the cricket program, other sports programs, and the school’s academic institutions is to develop individuals who have all the tools to succeed in life, on and off the field of play.
Leading a group of young men between the ages of 19 and 25, the UTT cricket team is a high-performance team that follows the same five tenets UTT sets out for all of its athletic programs:
- develop good nutrition
- improve strength and conditioning
- develop technical aspects for the sport
- cultivate a successful mindset that provides the mental capacity to perform at the highest levels
- develop mental opportunities by exposing athletes to competitive foreign environments
So far, the UTT cricket team has already succeeded in developing players who succeed on and off the pitch. Several alumni from the program have appeared with the national cricket team for Trinidad and Tobago. In the interest of boosting the program’s profile and challenging its players, the team recently traveled to the UK to face some of the best university cricket teams around.
Speaking to the Coach: Anthony Gray
In the eyes of the coach for the UTT cricket team, Tony Gray, the goal of the overseas trip to the UK was to cement the relationships between the cricket sector (and sporting sector in general) of Trinidad and Tobago and other nations around the world. The West Indies has a rich tradition of producing some of the most iconic sports figures in the world, with the likes of Brian Lara representing not only the region, but Trinidad and Tobago, as a great cricketer.
However, Gray feels the West Indies has failed to capitalise on the success of these players by developing a system of education in sport that helps the nation take advantage of its rich history. The cricket program at UTT strives to reach out to professionals from the past and encourage them to participate in the development of cricket in the country.
Additionally, the team travels to places such as the UK to test the mettle of its players and showcase Trinidad and Tobago cricket to the world. For his part, Tony Gray has 14 years of experience in the nation’s Ministry of Sport, and he tries to bring his experience and knowledge to his players.
Most importantly, Gray is proud to report that cricket is growing in Trinidad and Tobago, and with the help of the program at UTT, the nation is seeing a resurgence in talent. With a solid program in place to mentor young players and improve their abilities, the future for the West Indies and the national team in Trinidad and Tobago looks bright. The nation currently has a well-established system of under-13, under-15, under-17, and under-23 teams feeding into the national team program. With the continued guidance of Tony Gray and Daren Ganga, cricket will continue to grow at UTT and throughout Trinidad and Tobago.