NEW PARTNERSHIP: Shanghai Construction Group International Limited managing director Michael Zhang, left, presents a cheque for $400,000 to Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board president Azim Bassarath, right, while the People’s Republic of China Ambassador Huang Xing Yuan looks on during a media conference at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, yesterday. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

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CHINESE COME TO PLAY

Construction company pumps $$ into local cricket

By Roger Seepersad

Chinese company Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) International Limited became the latest corporate partners of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) after sponsoring the board’s National League Premier Division competition to the tune of $400,000.

According to director of All Sport Promotions Anthony Harford, who was part of the discussions between SCG and the TTCB, the investment is significant because it represents the first time a Chinese construction company will be sponsoring a national sporting competition in T&T.

Harford also chaired the press conference at the Queen’s Park Oval yesterday when the new partnership was revealed by SCG managing director Michael Zhang. Zhang said that the money will go towards helping the TTCB with its prizes and awards for the Premier Division.

However, despite the new sponsors coming on board, TTCB president Azim Bassarath said the prize structure of the Premier Division will remain the same as in previous seasons. 

Explaining their decision to sponsor a cricket competition, Zhang said the partnership is more than just a monetary one. “The truth is we now play cricket in China. Cricket was officially introduced into China in 2005, and with the support from Asian Cricket Council, China started the nationwide training programmes. We now have 150 qualified coaches and referees,” said Zhang. 

“In the 2010 Asian Games, the Chinese women’s cricket team achieved the fourth-place and the men’s team was among the top eight. We would love to see in the future the national league team from Trinidad and Tobago visit China for a series of co-operation,

“Moreover we are spending additional funds on branding venues and in supporting this new initiative. It is our hope that we can continue an association with the league,” he added, noting that an assessment will be done at the end of this season,” he added.

“Trinidad and Tobago is a beautiful country, one of the most active and open countries in the Caribbean region with rich culture benefiting from its people of different ethnic backgrounds. Harmony in diversity exists everywhere in our life, such as in food, holidays, celebrations, music. 

‘’Although we come from a different country with different culture background, our pursuit of better life is the same. We hope this sponsorship will further develop the young players and strengthen the game here in Trinidad and Tobago,” Zhang ended.

Putting the partnership into the context, People’s Republic of China Ambassador Huang Xing Yuan said: “In cricket, Trinidad and Tobago is a developed country and China is developing,” and he hopes that the partnership will help improve the level of cricket in both nations. 

Bassarath is also hoping that the partnership will benefit both countries. He said: “In this particular sport we are ranked way higher than China and just as we are benefitting from their construction expertise, we are now offering to return that favour in the sport of cricket, where we can assist the billions in China to take up this noble sport and excel at it. 

“As I stated earlier, this is where it all begins and we in Trinidad and Tobago are ready, willing and able to assist our larger and more economically powerful friends,” the TTCB boss added.

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