Frank Ali started working at age ten in the San Juan market, selling celery from a little cardboard box at two for $1 to help pay for his schooling.
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Phoenix soaring in women’s cricket
While all focus was on the men’s side of the local cricket season, the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Cricket Association (TTWCA) competitions were keenly contested in both the Premiership and Championship Division.
The outstanding premiership team for the 2014 season was the Phoenix Women Cricket Club (PWCC). The Phoenix Women won 18 out 22 possible matches. In so doing they successfully defended their ‘6’s title, regained both the 30 overs knockout title which they lost in 2012 and T20 Premiership title which they lost in 2013 and they were runners up in the 40 overs league.
During the season the Phoenix women were able to get the better of their main rivals and the most consistent team for the past two years Moosai Sports in four out of six matches. Their finest performance came in the final competition of the season, the T20 final where they brushed aside Moosai Sports in a most clinical all-round manner. After restricting Moosai Sports for a paltry 68/8 in their 20 overs, the Phoenix Women cantered home by 8 wickets in an extremely lopsided final.
In the absence of first choice captain Merissa Aguilliera, the Phoenix Women were astutely led by Shenelle Lord. Lord led from in front with distinction with both bat and ball. In all competitions she scored 322 runs and had 29 scalps. Britney Cooper was the leading run getter with 417 runs with a highest score of 101 not out, while other notable contributions came from Guyanese Melissa Henry who scored 233 runs and Samantha Bissoon who scored 168 runs. The chief wicket takers were Bissoon with 29 wickets, Stephanie Ramcharan 21 wickets and Leandra Ramdeen 17 wickets.
The Phoenix Women’s Cricket Club (PWCC) was formed in 2003 by John Trumpet and students from Holy Faith Convent, Couva. Since its inception, the PWCC has performed with distinction in the TTWCA tournaments, winning several titles while placing credibly in others.
The PWCC does not have an established home ground, however, over the years have forged relationships with the Couva East Secondary School and CALDRAC Sports in California to use their facilities for training and matches whenever they are available. The club’s home base is the residence of coach Trumpet in Couva. The players are drawn mainly from central and south Trinidad with the average age being 20 years.
The club has produced several national and West Indian players. Some of the players from the club that have played for the West Indies are current West Indies captain Merissa Aguillera and Britney Cooper. From the current team, Lord, Cooper, Bissoon, Ramcharan, and Shernella Townsend were part of the national cricket team that took part in the 2013 West Indies regional tournament. Several other players such as Karishma Ramdeo, Loretta Eligon, Alysa Mano and Rackeal Bissoon have been part of the national under-19 programmes.
Despite the success of the club, corporate Trinidad and Tobago have not been convinced that supporting the club would be a worthwhile venture. The lukewarm response too many of the applications for sponsorship maybe because it is a female club and ‘serious’ sport is only played by males and furthermore cricket is a male sport! In the absence of corporate support, the club has financed itself over the years through several fund raising ventures such as bbq’s and raffles as well as the support of parents and friends. The club also draws upon the annual support provided by the TTWCA to covers its costs of playing.
In 2011, in an attempt to expose more females to cricket, a second team was formed, Achievers Women Cricket Club (AWCC). Most of these players are between the ages of 12-18 years and many are having their first experience with ‘hard’ ball cricket. Achievers Women participate in the Championship Division of the TTWCA and in 2014 finished 4th in the league. In the 2014 season Anand Bann volunteered his coaching services to Phoenix Women, while national under-19 coach John Trumpet worked with the Achievers Women.
Despite its many challenges, the Phoenix Women Cricket Club celebrating its 11th anniversary as well as its 2014 season success is testimony of the deep commitment demonstrated over the years by the players, management, family and friends to the development of the club. Looking ahead the club will be seeking to address some of its infrastructural issues so that it can be in a better position to not only to compete consistently in the TTWCA competitions but also contribute to the further development of women cricket Trinidad and Tobago.
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