The Cook Islands cricket team to the East Asia Pacific Sub-regional qualifier in Vanuatu. SUPPLIED/22092908
The annual general meeting for the Cook Islands Cricket Association (CICA) at the Pukapuka hostel on December 7 was extremely well attended with 64 representatives from almost all the local clubs present on the night, including the president of Aitutaki cricket Daniel Mataiti.
Association president Grant Walker in his report did a
historical review of the past to explain previous programmes, tours and
finances with a view towards the future.
A number of significant concerns were raised and
answered. The members all agreed on a new structure that would increase club
and member involvement, with the blessing and approval of the previous
administration. This was followed by an election of the new officers for 2023.
Grant Walker was re-elected as president and Kapiri
Tiaiti was elected as the vice president. Gabe Raymond will be the treasurer of
CICA and Makiroa Mato the new secretary.
Speaking to Cook Islands News, president Grant Walker
said: “It’s a new day for CICA. I’ve had a chance to research and talk about
where the sport was in past years, and what we were and weren’t able to
achieve. Direct funding from the ICC has been reduced for a number of factors
outside our control. So we as a sports code and community will need to work
together to fill the gap and build a base that can raise the funding in the
“Thanks to some local sponsorship and the hard work of
local and NZ based players we had a successful campaign in Vanuatu. For the
first time ever we are ranked 55th in the world. We need to keep
that momentum going. To see such a large turnout at the AGM is exciting. In the
new board structure all the clubs will have a say.”
About the recently launched youth programme under the
watchful eyes of national coach Craig Murray and Hori Miller, Grant said: “We
realise the need to focus on the youth programme and to get them involved in and
passionate about the sport. We plan to build a pathway for kids to join and
grow so that in the future they will strengthen our national sides to be
competitive in the Pacific which we have already shown is possible. We will
also be tapping into talent in the Pa Enua. For this we plan to have a set up
in Manihiki/Rakahanga, Pukapuka and Mangaia to begin with.”
With regards to building infrastructure for the game,
Walker shared their full vision was to establish a full-sized cricket ground in
the Cook Islands so that the game can be played to international standards.
“This will also help us host events which we are
currently unable to do. We’ve got some additional support coming from NZ
Cricket, and some other supporters in NZ too.
“We were very fortunate to have our national team and
media manager Rahul Patil attend the T20 World Cup in Australia where he was
able to talk about Cook Islands Cricket to a host of people. Our message and
our stories are now getting out to the wider cricketing world.”
Lastly on being reelected as CICA president Grant said
that he was humbled to have the continued support of the members and that he
looked forward to working with the new team to hit 2023 in full stride.
A CICA women’s team will be formed in 2023 to
participate in the East Asia Pacific World Cup qualifier. Both the men’s and women’s
teams are scheduled to play practice games against a Northern Districts Maori
and Auckland Maori side in NZ prior to the EAP qualifier.
In the local competition the women’s league stage is
now over and the playoffs begin in the new year with the top ranked Arorangi
team taking on number two ranked Turangi team. The winner of this game will go
straight to the final. The side that loses this game will have another chance
of qualifying for the final when they play the winner of third ranked Muri versus
fourth placed Nikao.
The men still have the final round of the league stage
to complete this weekend before moving on to the playoffs after the Christmas
break. Currently defending champions, the Arorangi Redbacks are in top
Full fixtures for both the men’s and women’s playoffs
will be released later this week.