(Jamaica Observer) Emotional and teary-eyed as his academy was launched yesterday at Lucas Cricket Club, West Indies player Christopher Gayle, known for his hard-hitting style when batting, aimed a few mysterious blows in the direction of the Jamaica government.
Near the tail-end of a substantial speech, relating boyhood stories and his early years at Lucas CC, the Jamaican left-handed opener, who is on the verge of playing his hundredth Test match, changed the pace of proceedings with a cryptic message.
“I’ve only asked my country for two things ever. I’ve asked for two simple, simple things from the government and they told me ‘no’… and I’m not going to get into details of what it is,” the 34-year-old told those in attendance.
Continuing, Gayle, said he will not make a third request, while adding that the late West Indies and Jamaica all-rounder Laurie Williams had also been refused a favour before he died in a car crash at age 33 in 2002.
“I’ve done so much for hospitals here, schools and everything, and I ask my country for a small favour.
“I remember another national cricketer, Laurie Williams asked for a favour from the government, he died and didn’t get it, and that’s a man who represented his country.
“I’ve seen people who haven’t done much or anything at all for the country getting a lot of privilege, and that’s very, very disappointing. And I’m saying this now, it’s for all you bigger heads [those in charge] out there. I’m disappointed in you all.”
When the Jamaica Observer spoke to Gayle after the launch, he again refused to say what requests were turned down.
Asked if he believes the Government has done enough for sport persons in Jamaica, Gayle’s response was quick:
“Yes, they have, honestly. They are making progress, it would be unfair to come here and say they haven’t done things to help sports.”
Persons close to the big left-hander also appeared unwilling or unable to explain the reason for the unusual outburst from the normally laid-back Gayle.
Efforts to contact Minister with Responsibility for Sports Natalie Neita Headley proved futile up to press time yesterday.
The Chris Gayle Academy, in association with the England-based charity organisation Cricket For Change (C4C), was launched through a 28,000 pounds scholarship from the British Airways’ Community and Conservation Bursary Programme, and additional support from bat-maker Spartan.
The resources will be used to train young people, using sport as a development tool in communication and leadership skills.
The three programmes to be run over the next three years through the academy are the Gayle Academy Team, Gayle’s Big 6 Schools Programme and Gayle’s Big 6 Club Programme.
“Giving back in this sense is fantastic because last year’s launch was overseas and I had to get one here where it all began. I’m really happy with how things panned out today and I hope the guys put it to good use and hopefully they’ll respect each other and coaches can guide them,” Gayle said.
Andy Sellins, the chief executive officer of C4C said “the plan is to engage at-risk youth” in aiding them to be employment prospects.
The first Chris Gayle Academy rolled out in London in 2013 in partnership with charity entity Comic Relief, British Airways and Spartan.
In 2012, Gayle had unveiled a nursery in his name at Lucas CC.