KINGSTON, Jamaica – History will be made tomorrow. The first ball in the first warm up match for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 will be bowled at the new multi-purpose stadium in Trelawny, a most important addition to the country’s national asset.
All is in place for this first warm up match between the West Indies and Kenya.
This year’s staging of the third largest sporting event in the world starts right here in our beautiful homeland, Jamaica.
We will be rolling out the welcome mat to the 16 teams from the participating countries, officials and cricketing fans from around the world.
Visitors and Jamaicans in the Diaspora have started to come in for the event.
Sabina Park is ready. The multi-purpose stadium in Trelawny is ready.
Over 1000 volunteers have been trained and are geared up for the event.
The one thousand one hundred rooms needed to accommodate teams, officials, media and sponsors are in place.
Ninety-six JUTC drivers have been specially trained and are ready to transport patrons to and from the venues.
The medical master plan is in place.
Security arrangements are tight. Some 730 security personnel have been specially trained for the event.
There are comprehensive contingency plans, designed to deal with any eventuality.
Clean up and beautification work is on-going.
A star-studded cast is getting ready to present a spectacular and impressive opening ceremony on March 11.
We will be welcoming the CARICOM Prime Ministers and other dignitaries for this grand occasion.
All the tickets have been sold for the opening ceremony. To use a popular term – the opening ceremony “lock”.
Co-coordinated by the Cricket World Cup Local Organizing Committee, thousands of Jamaicans have been working round the clock.
I am very pleased to see the enthusiasm being displayed by so many persons – ranging from young children to corporate citizens.
Thanks to all the volunteers and all the parents, family members and friends who are supporting them, so they can give of their best in this historic opening ceremony.
Our CARICOM brothers and sisters have been a tower of strength. Our global neighbors have given us their support.
I thank all and salute our major sponsors: cable & wireless, the bank of Nova Scotia, red stripe, Pepsi, BMW through Stewarts Auto, Johnny walker black and media partners: RJR communications group, CVM and KLAS/FM.
We have overcome the early challenges and Jamaica is ready for the world.
I want to thank all of you for your understanding during the important construction and renovation phase, as we prepared for this event.
Let us remember that long after the last ball is bowled, the facilities put in place, will remain for the use and enjoyment of all Jamaicans.
The beautification program will be continued for the period previously announced. I have always advocated such programs because I believe that Jamaicans deserve to live in a clean and beautiful environment.
In this context, I pay special tribute to the church members and other volunteers who are supporting this effort.
My fellow Jamaicans, as a people, there are very few of us who would not make a special effort to welcome a visitor in our midst.
Most of us were brought up to put our best foot forward for visitors – to make them comfortable and offer the best that we have. It is called hospitality.
We are good at it because we have always been a kind and gracious people.
Let us consider this: when Jamaica hosts Cricket World Cup, it is not only because we love cricket and are Caribbean people.
It is not only because the preparations provide employment for many – and more will benefit from the inflow of visitors.
There are also gains to be made from the international attention which our country will receive.
Visitors will see what our country has to offer. Furthermore, 2.6 billion people from all over the world will have an opportunity to see us on their TV screens.
What kind of image of Jamaica do we want to be portrayed around the world?
Remember, our country will be on show. The eyes of the world will be on us.
Favorable and positive publicity can be very valuable in building goodwill which can serve us well in the future.
It is for all these reasons that I am calling on every single Jamaican to give full support as we proudly host the cricket world cup.
Feel the pride! Feel the vibes! We are Jamaican, we are Caribbean, and we are putting on a show for the entire world!
On march 10, when the long stream of buses, carrying the over 1600 participants and cast for the opening ceremony roll through Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and St. Ann to Trelawny for the Opening Ceremony, please come out and greet them.
Beautify the place with your presence. Show them the real Jamaican personality – warm, friendly, humorous, peaceful and gracious.
We owe it to ourselves and to the Caribbean region. Let us unite. Let us go beyond the boundaries to make this the best and most unforgettable Cricket World Cup ever.
Remember, let us rally round the West Indies as they seek to become the first host team to win the ICC cricket world cup.
Thank you, good evening and god bless YOU!
The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP, Prime Minister