The humble upbringing of outstanding batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul whose initial expertise was acquired on the beaches in his Unity village, would no doubt have had an impact on his decision to establish an academy. He must have considered his own experience when there were very few facilities and opportunities. For him to now create an opening for the future players of Guyana is indeed a masterful stroke. His mere presence at the academy whenever he is available and free from his national and international commitments will be an inspiration to the young players, and therefore this magnanimous undertaking has the potential to produce the next generation of talent from a village which nurtured former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Chetram Singh – who transformed the administration of cricket in Guyana – and fast-bowling icon Colin Croft.
This establishment should become a national institution and I presume that Chanderpaul will seek international support including from his West Indian team mates who could contribute by forsaking one Test match fee to donate towards the academy, or some similar gesture. Chanderpaul emphasised the significance of a quality education and the academy is expected to recruit professionals in various disciplines in order to develop balanced individuals. It is a very timely statement given the rebellious attitude of many players on the field in defiance of the true spirit of the game, which I believe is due to limited education. This academy indeed will be a significant boost to cricket in Guyana and will be a testimony to the generosity of one of the most approachable individuals the game has ever known. Several other former cricketers such as Steve Waugh who has a foundation for the underprivileged in India, or Glen McGrath, whose support for cancer victims is renowned, have been recommitting to humanitarian efforts. Chanderpaul’s academy will encourage healthy lifestyles, and provide mentorship, a professional outlook, scholarship and a real sense of how to develop the path towards success, as Chanderpaul has done throughout his glittering career.
It is no coincidence that he stands as the number one Test batsman presently in the world (ICC) rankings, a reflection of his hard and dedicated work. The academy is expected to be a resounding success and other stakeholders, including the government should provide monetary and technical support.
Perhaps it is also an indication that the continuing impasse between the government-appointed IMC and the GCB which has literally broken the spine of local competitions should be resolved for the sake of normalcy and the continuity of plans for the future in collaboration with the WICB. Chanderpaul is now paving the way for another first by establishing his academy for the further development of the game in Guyana.