Former Guyana, and West Indian cricketer Roger Harper, who was nicknamed ‘Juice,’ said one of the things that could stimulate interest in sport in Guyana on a whole, is the availability of sporting scholarships.
Harper, whose international career lasted for 13 years and was called a ‘fabulous fielder’ noted that students are writing 20 subjects at the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Examination, but does not see the benefits after seven subjects, and pointed out that some students may not have the aptitude for academics, but would do well if they played a sport.
“If students could acquire sporting scholarships, parents would be more inclined to help and motivate their kids because they would see the benefits,” said Harper, while referring to many Jamaican students, who travel abroad on scholarships, but less than 50 percent of them pursue athletics.
Others, he noted, use the scholarship as a vehicle to further their academic ambitions.
Harper, who coached the West Indian team for three years and is president of the Georgetown Cricket Club, stated that the Unites States and other countries see success in scholarship programs, and he would like to see the same in Guyana.
“The strength of a nation is in sport,” argues the former all-rounder whose Test bowling average of 28.06 was superior to that of Lance Gibbs - and who praised Quodo Vancooten, headmaster of Mashabo Primary School for motivating students to play cricket.
Harper, who said it was “great coaching players” at a relatively high level after being appointed to the Kenyan national team in 2006, said if the headmaster is willing to make sport a part of the school’s activities, then the students would develop a talent, particularly for the game of cricket.
Harper is known for one of the most outstanding performances against South Africa in the Quarter Finals of the 1996 Cricket World Cup when he took 4/47 to allow the West Indies to seize control of the match.
“I am delighted that cricket is spreading, and has great interest in rural areas like the Essequibo region,” he added, after presenting cricket gear on behalf of the Guyana Jamaica Friendship Association NY, at a recent reception in the capital.
Roger, who recorded 535 runs and 46 wickets in his 25 Tests, and played 200 first-class matches, and his brother Mark, also a former cricketer, conduct clinics and summer programs under the patronage of the Georgetown Cricket Association, to engage the youth, and promote cricket.
“We rarely give credit to the benefits of sport in this country (Guyana),” said Harper, who explained that extra curricular activity would help to develop character and discipline in children. Self-confidence, teamwork, and an overall healthy lifestyle are important, he said.
“Sport offers opportunity of a career but if it is not promoted, then there will be failures,” added the cricketer who reiterated that kids who may not necessary have the aptitude for academics, but has talent in a particular sport, could succeed with an athletic scholarship.
A Queens College alumnus and current coach of the under 13, 15 and 19 programs at St. Stanislaus College and his alma mater, Harper said students must develop themselves through sport. However, he added, “I would like to see more schools get involved in coaching students in the game of cricket.”
“I am terrible disappointed at the state of the cricket field at Queens College and the lack of opportunities available to youth,” stated the greatest catcher in cricket history, adding that it is importance for students to play sports in school.
“It is a travesty that sport is being neglected in the school system. This must be addressed,” added the former North Hamptonshire player, and once all-rounder who batted with his right hand, and bowled off-breaks with his right arm.