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OC’s grassroots programme is on a strong wicket: Varun Khimji

Gary Kirsten’s second camp is among the many initiatives taken to nurture youngsters
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MUSCAT: Oman Cricket (OC) has been keen on developing cricket at the grassroots level in the Sultanate of Oman among local and expatriate schoolchildren over the past year. Various programmes and initiatives have been implemented by OC and to ensure the continuity is maintained, a pilot programme in Muscat-based schools, and a training camp under the guidance of legendary South African Gary Kirsten has been organised.

Providing further details on the ambitious grassroots programme, Varun Khimji, adviser to Oman Cricket, said: “Oman Cricket, at the moment, has initiated a grassroots programme with an aim to broaden the exposure of the game of cricket among the youth of the Sultanate of Oman.

“We have started coaching sessions at couple of schools - The Sultan’s School and Cheltenham - with many more schools to be included in the coming semesters. The coaching programmes are run by the coaching staff of our established Oman Cricket Academy (OCA).

“It allows the children to experience the game in the best possible environment, where they are able to learn the right skills and have a correct mindset of the game. We feel that our grassroots programme is on a strong wicket.”

Varun added: “The programme caters to age-group from 7-16 years. It is the perfect time to identify talents for the future. Our ultimate goal is to provide our national team with a pool of talents that can represent the country at global level.”

The OC adviser said: “Our grassroots initiatives are in line with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth’s vision to enhance Sultanate of Oman’s sporting capabilities. Under the dynamic leadership of His Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, the support of the sports ministry has been vital to us in the growth of the game in the country.”

Kirsten to speak on ‘role of parents’

Elaborating on the forthcoming Gary Kirsten Camp, which will be held in coordination with OC for the second time, Varun said: “The camp is a high-performance camp for players to experience. It is an intense and focused programme that will be running for four days. We also will have coaches from Gary Kirsten Cricket (GKC) who would be holding a day’s session for young children as part of our focus on grassroots programme.”

The young OC board adviser added: “We are delighted to host the legendary South African cricketer and a World Cup-winning coach, Gary Kirsten, during the camp.

“In fact, he has agreed to conduct a talk on ‘The role of parents in sports’. All the parents and children who have registered for the camp will be invited for the talk, which will be held at 6.30pm on January 31, 2023 at the OCA premises.

“The topic is of great importance and Gary Kirsten’s inputs will certainly be of great importance. The role of parents is essential and a key ingredient in the success story of a child, not only in cricket but in any sport.”

Varun, who is one of three members of Oman Cricket’s advisory panel formed last year, said: “Our partnership with GKC is a long term one, with discussions on going for trips abroad to cricketing destinations where our players are exposed even further in the game. GKC’s reputed profile as an academy will only benefit our cricketing knowledge and capabilities in terms of nurturing, coaching, and playing.”

Meanwhile, Evert Laubscher, OCA manager and national team trainer, said: “Two reputed GKC coaches, namely Ryan Van Niekerk and Gareth Von Hoesslin, will be accompanying Gary Kirsten for the second camp in Oman, scheduled from January 31 to February 4.”

Laubscher added: “More than 80 players have registered for the camp but there are few more seats available to register for young cricketers who are interested.”

Both Van Niekerk and Von Hoesslin have been part of GKC’s first camp that was successfully organised in October, 2022, which was attended by nearly 70 children and young players.

The grassroots camp will be held on February 1 at the OCA in the evening while the best three days will be devoted to high-performance camp.

GKC founder and World Cup-winning coach Kirsten is a household name among cricket fans across the world. Since his retirement in 2004, the former opening batter has devoted his time to running GKC, coaching international teams and franchises and tasted tremendous success, leading India to a World Cup title in 2011 and as a mentor of Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022.

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