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Howzat! 'Jamaica here we come tour' takes off

DREAM TEAM (from lef)t: Garry Peal and Steve Hollingworth of Birmingham City Council; Beverly Lindsay, of Diamond Travel; Sted Wallen; Martyn Dobson, of Warwickshire Cricket Club

A ONCE in a lifetime opportunity to cement Birmingham’s special relationship with Jamaica is all set for next year with the launch of the City of Birmingham Olympic Legacy Tour.

Based on a cricket and culture tour, the aim of the groundbreaking project is to create a lasting sporting legacy in Jamaica. This was part of the Olympic training camp agreement signed in Birmingham in 2009 when the Jamaican Track and Field Team chose the city as their pre-Olympic training camp before London 2012.

Everyone remembers the moment when Usain Bolt and fellow athletes Yohan Blake and Warren Weir “bigged up” Birmingham to the world following their Olympic glory as a thank you for the hospitality they received in the city.

Now with the support of Warwickshire County Cricket Club and Birmingham City Council, the Jamaica Here We Come Tour is looking for budding cricketers, willing sponsors and enthusiastic supporters to join forces for a trip of a lifetime.

Sted Wallen, who is one of the main organisers behind the project, told The Voice: “This is Birmingham driven, but we are keen to share this once in a lifetime opportunity with the rest of the UK, so we are urging people to come on board.

“This will be much more than simply a cricket tour, as we are hoping to take Gospel singers, while also getting involved in the ever popular game of dominoes in Jamaica.

“We’re planning six Olympic legacy cricket matches across the island, two coaching clinics, ‘good deed days’ a Gospel concert and many other exciting activities.”

Wallen, who organises the annual Malcolm Marshall Memorial Cup as part of Birmingham’s Sport and Cultural Day in Handsworth Park, added: “The response so far has been overwhelming because we have widened the brief to appeal to so many people.

“It will be an ambassadorial tour certainly for the cricketers within the official touring party who will wear the City of Birmingham colours.

“But it will also be a chance for others to visit Jamaica, perhaps returning home for the first time in many years. We are looking for people to make suggestions regarding what they believe are good legacy ideas that we can deliver in Jamaica. They will be able to travel within the safety and security of a large group. We are also looking for very competitive group travel rates.”

Wallen said there are plans afoot to identify a derelict piece of land in Jamaica where Birmingham can put its mark, providing a high quality sporting facility to be used by local people.

The hunt is now on among Birmingham 100-plus cricket clubs for players to form a team, while there will also be a “search for a star” competition which will offer a free place to one talented player.

Other supports include the Jamaica Tourist Board, Diamond Travel, the Grassroots Cricket Association and the Jamaica Cricket Association.

The tour is planned for the end of September 2015 and Wallen said he is confident a steering committee will be formed next month.

Potential sponsors, cricketers and supporters are urged to come to the next meeting to discuss plans at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Thursday October 30th at 6.30pm.

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