BEARING FRUIT The preliminary-round matches are scheduled to run from February 20 to March 20. Teams comprising both boys and girls, will compete to be named in the top eight. These top eight schools will playoff at the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket Festival, scheduled to take place on April 7. Billy Heaven, president of the Jamaica Cricket Association, endorsed the expanded programme. Heaven said it has been bearing fruit with several alumni now playing at the highest level. Scotiabank is the exclusive sponsor of Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket and the official bank of West Indies Cricket. According to Hope McMillan-Canaan, manager – public and corporate affairs at Scotiabank, the bank was committed to the programme for the long haul. Eighteen new schools have been added to the Kiddy Cricket lineup, moving the number of participants from 224 up to 242 for the Scotiabank-WICB Kiddy Cricket programme. The 2017 programme was officially launched at Sabina Park yesterday. Key stakeholders from the West Indies Cricket Board, the Jamaica Cricket Association, the Ministry of Education and Scotiabank were on hand to welcome the participants. There has also been an increase in the number of coaches, one for each parish, an adjustment that will allow at least 16 schools in each parish to get special attention during the programme. According to Phillip Service, West Indies Territorial Development Officer for Jamaica, “with this new structure, we have been able to provide greater quality coaching to more boys and girls, improved assistance in the cricket skill development of young cricketers, as well as to have a closer link with the schools in the programme”. Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket started in Jamaica in 2001 and has exposed thousands of young children to the game in a modified form, where they play ten overs per match consisting of ten persons per team. Since its inception, numerous players have gone on to represent their countries and the West Indies. Some former Kiddy Cricketers of note in Jamaica are Brandon King, who now represents Jamaica, and Jermaine Blackwood, who plays for the West Indies at the highest level.