Sunday, 25th February, 2018 was a memorable day for cricket in Sierra Leone, as Kent Cricket Club, in partnership with Sierra Leone Cricket Association, hosted the first ever Beach Cricket Festival. The event lasted for a day and it was held at The Place Resort, Tokeh Beach.
The teams that participated were British High Commission/ DFID, Safari Company Ltd., Sierra Leone 2009 U19 and the Kent Cricket Club U17, each team consisting of 6 members plus 2 additional substitute. These teams played the gentlemen’s game with enthusiasm and ensured that the event was full of excitement.
The event kicked off at 10:30 am, and all the four teams lined up while the Sierra Leone anthem and the British anthem were played by a brass band. Due to the nature of the game, the duration was limited to five overs per innings and two innings per match, Being a beach cricket competition, the equipment used was plastic-made – the ball, bats, stumps and the mat as well.
Also, to make the matches exciting, a few interesting rules were added, such as: no first-ball dismissal for batsman, no leg before wicket (LBW), two runs and two added deliveries for wides as well as no balls, all the batsmen making 30 or more runs to retire, and only one bowling end used. The boundary lines were drawn based upon the agreement of the umpires and the captains.
The opening match was between the Kent CC U17 and the Sierra Leone 2009 U19 (all of them senior national players). The Kent U17 made the match very exciting, and amazingly held their own against their cricket mentors. Even though they lost, they ran the opposition close. The second match was between Safari Company Ltd. and the British High Commission/DFID, won by the former.
In the third match, Kent CC U17 took on Safari Company Ltd., but were unable to defeat them. In the fourth match, Sierra Leone 2009 U19 were beaten by BHC/DFID, thanks to a a solid opening partnership between British High Commissioner Guy Warrington and John Hunt of Tilford Cricket Club in the UK.
The spirited Kent Cricket Club U17 team at the Beach Cricket Festival
In the fifth match, Sierra Leone 2009 U19 lost for the second time in a row when they were beaten by Safari Company Limited. It was lunch time after the fifth match and following that, nature took its course as the tide reached the playing area, making the decisive match between Kent U17 and BCH/DFID unplayable.
After a while, the umpires and the Technical Director of the Sierra Leone Cricket Association, Michael Kargbo, decided the outcome of the competition based on the points table. After the discussion, all players and supporters were called upon to witness the final session of the tournament, as the awards were going to be given.
Mr Sydney Benka Coker, the former Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Cricket Association, chaired the programme. He first shared his appreciation to the Kent Cricket Club for their continuous efforts to push the development of cricket in Sierra Leone, and also gave a special remark to the CEO, Emmanuel Pessima, for his consistent perseverance.
In the keynote address, the British High Commissioner, Guy Warrington, described the competition as a huge success for cricket in Sierra Leone, and further stressed that every moment of the competition was enjoyable and playing on the beach was immense fun. He added that he believed in the power of cricket, and thanked Mr. Pessima for putting together a wonderful event.
Michael Kamara, Technical Director, Sierra Leone Cricket Association said; “My responsibility in the Association is to select national teams and I am pleased to witness such a successful competition. We will continue to support Emmanuel on his project as it is for the development of cricket in the country.”
In her statement, Mary Hunt, Head of UKAID in Sierra Leone, said; “the Beach Cricket competition is so lovely and it reminds us of how we used to enjoy cricket back home in the UK; we actually do not miss home.”
Safari Company Limited were the winners of the Beach Cricket competition
John Hunt, the Captain of the British High Commission/DFID Beach Cricket team said; “I was happy to play in the competition and we enjoyed playing. I cannot leave here without saying thanks to Emmanuel Pessima for his sincerity and consistency to ensure that he promotes cricket in Sierra Leone.”
Hunt added; “I want to donate cricket equipment to Kent CC on behalf of my club, the UK Tilford Cricket Club. The last time I witnessed the Kent CC, I realised they are in need of equipment, so I am donating these bats, balls, pads, gloves, helmet and other kit.” Mr. Pessima came up and thanked John Hunt for his kind gesture, and the Kent youngsters joined the podium in receiving the equipment.
At the end of the event, awards and medals were distributed to the deserving players. Edward Ngegba of Safari Company Limited was awarded with Batsman of the Tournament trophy for scoring the highest number of runs. Lansana Lamin of Safari received the Best Bowler award for taking the most wickets. John Hunt of British High Commission/DFID was awarded the Spirit of Cricket.
Edward Ngegba of Safari Company Limited was awarded the Player of the Tournament trophy for his outstanding performance in the competition. While Safari Company Limited was presented with gold medals and a trophy for winning the competition, the Sierra Leone 2009 U19 national team was awarded silver medals and a trophy.
The CEO of Kent Cricket Club, Mr. Pessima, expressed thanks and appreciation to the participating teams and their sponsor Onlime for supporting their ideology of taking cricket to the people, using beach cricket as a means of popularising the game in the country. “Many thanks to our partners in UK, Kent County Cricket Club, for providing the medals and trophies”, he said.
He further added; “Thanks to the Place Resort who did a fantastic job in providing us with the venue, including food. And finally, special thanks to the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Cricket Association, Beresford Bournes-Coker, for his continued support.” He also thanked Flick UK, Twenty20 Community Cricket UK and Life by Design for their unflinching support.