This column, for many years now, has been clamouring for a sporting event that can be described as St Vincent and the Grenadinesâ signature sports tourism niche.
Many have toyed with events of all kinds, but none has stuck as a fixture of any sports permanency.
So, when the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture, through its Minister, Cecil Mc Kie, along with the National Lotteries Authority and the National Sports Council, two weekends ago, staged the International Masters 20/20 Cricket Festival, it seemed that we were on to something good.
Seen as a trial run, the festival was able to attract three teams from Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the customary visit of the Vincentian-New York Masters from the USA. The other six teams were home-based.
And, from all reports, the visiting teams, (the Trinidadians), were all contented that the trip was worth it, and promised to be back for the 2018 edition.
The visiting outfits, through the fixturing of matches, were able to get a taste of either side of the mainland, as they played at the Cumberland Playing Field, as well as the Arnos Vale and Park Hill venues, which, in itself, were tours of parts of our island.
It was almost perfect, because the Independence celebrations fell within the weekend, which allowed for an extended period; hence, the matches could have been fitted into four days.
With the festival staged and having come to a fitting and exciting end, one cannot fault the organizers for the efforts of their first shot at the event, as they would have attained an above average rating.
They must not, however, see it as perfection, as this was not the case. Success is not measured by the event simply coming off without major hitches.
Also, the festival should not be left to be a personal undertaking, thus reducing the expected notion of the âIâ, âmeâ, and âmineâ mode of operations in decision making.
In planning for future festivals, organizers should endeavour to make it a truly international affair, where more teams from outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines would be attracted to coming here.
This will require the early wooing of established masters cricket teams from within the region and more so those from outside; hence, advertising is critical.
Surely, the word of mouth selling of the festival by the Trinidadians is expected, but their input alone would not suffice it, as a wider geographical spread of teams should be the goal of those in charge of administrating the festival.
Therefore, the festival has to be sold well, inclusive of a more attractive pay-out of prizes.
At the inaugural festival, two weeks ago, the winners, one of the home teams, Teachers Credit Union North East, won the US$3,500 that was at stake.
East Masters of Trinidad and Tobago was second, gaining $2,000, with the losing semi-finalists getting $500 each.
Accepted as a good start, these prizes monies have to be increased.
In order to do so, synergies have to be formed and corporate partnerships established with targeted entities, such as hotels and beverage producers, who are direct beneficiaries from such sporting ventures.
Thanks to the National Lotteries Authority for funding the maiden festival, but their financial support cannot be relied on forever.
Getting the International Masters Cricket Festival to hold its own and become a stellar sports tourism item for St Vincent and the Grenadines is paramount, the same way that others in the region have framed and latched on to, with some degree of success and economic spin-offs.
We, though, in order to reach the level of acceptability others have achieved, have to be prepared to put in the hard work, astute planning and execution, in making ours the most anticipated and the best there is.