The National Gas Company (NGC) will sponsor zones to the tune of $400,000 for the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board's (TTCB's) 2013 season.
Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board president Azim Bassarath made the announcement at the TTCB's headquarters in Balmain, Couva yesterday as he distributed $50,000 cheques to each of the seven zones in Trinidad plus one to the Tobago Cricket Association.
But Bassarath said the zones "would be required to account for their spending."
He said that currently, the TTCB is working to regularise rules and regulations, competitions, prize money and tournament structures across the zones to ensure consistency and a level playing field for all stakeholders.
"Our staff is working overtime to assist zones with much needed funding for its annual operation, but we would like zones to also do their part in meeting its financial commitments," Bassarath said.
He added: "As a first step in that direction, our marketing and sponsorship team met with National Gas Company of T&T and signed a deal which will take us into 2014. One of the planks supported by NGC, to whom we are very grateful, is that of zonal support." And Bassarath added that from 2013, an award would be given to the "Best Zone"in T&T.
The president said CEO Suruj Ragoonath and treasurer Sukesh Maniam have been mandated to meet with the zones next week to plan for 2013, to ensure that they are given the necessary support.
Bassarath said that at a recent retreat, the TTCB decided to pursue a search for talent across the country that involve the zones, which he described as " the nursery for cricketers."
Other plans include a curators workshop for all zones and their clubs, as well as a Level II coaching programme in December.
"In addition, to ensure that there is consistency across all zones, our Board would also be conducting sessions for disciplinary committees. This is an area of growing concern for us, as there is seemingly a rise in the number of disciplinary matters and we want to have consistency is dealing with these issues," Bassarath said.
Bassarath also said the TTCB only recently conducted an umpiring seminar as they seek to improve the standard of officiating at all levels.
Earlier in his address, he said that zones play a critical role in the overall cricketing landscape of T&T.
"In fact, the zones have the responsibility of administering cricket to all communities across the country and therefore its roles and functions cannot be underestimated or taken for granted.
The president said the TTCB recognised the zone's administrative work and the voluntary nature of the job and the time, effort and resources involved.
Bassarath acknowledged words of thanks were not enough, although he understood that most volunteers in the zones got involved because of their love for the game.
"We applaud your commitment," he said.
Additionally, Bassarath said the TTCB was not prepared to sit on its laurels.
"We are seeing the benefits of strengthening our office administration and this we hope will translate into a more professional level of business operations at all levels."
He concluded by saying that, "come 2013, we would like to ensure that the performance of all our national teams at regional level improve immensely. To achieve this would require a collaborative effort from all of us and I am here today to announce that from here onwards, zones will become more empowered and therefore be made more accountable for their operations.
"As a Board, we would like to see our administrators becoming better equipped to administer our sport and to this end, we would be conducting workshops in January and February for them."