Shahzad Raza –
Cricket is beginning to fascinate young Omani schoolboys and girls like never before and more students are expected to make Oman Cricket Academy (OCA) in Al Amerat their training home as part of the ‘Omani Junior Cricket Development Programme’ under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education.
The Ministry of Higher Education has included cricket in the Omani schools’ curriculum after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with Oman Cricket a few months ago. As a result, 25 students, as young as 10 years old, are learning the ropes under the tutelage of Desmond Berhardt and Javed Abdul Qadir al Balushi, two qualified coaches appointed by Oman Cricket to hone their skills.
“The whole idea of taking cricket to the grassroots level in Omani schools was mooted by Oman Cricket’s Board of Directors, particularly by Pankaj Khimji and Madhu Jesrani who in consultation with the Ministry of Sports Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education, worked hard to bring this to fruition,” said Duleep Mendis, Chief Development Officer of Oman Cricket, while addressing a gathering of players, parents and OC officials.
“This is a wonderful programme for the community and they can really benefit from the training facilities provided here by Oman Cricket. It is bringing young children to cricket grounds. It is also bringing Omani parents to cricket grounds and we are sure they will share their experiences with the other parents and the number of young Omani players will continue to grow here,” added Mendis.
Keen to provide its maximum support to Omani cricketers and their parents, OC has appointed Board member Dad Mohammed al Balushi as the camp manager and Sabah al Fadhil as the camp coordinator.
The training camp, which started on February 22, 2019, is held twice a week — on Monday and Wednesday.
Parents come to drop their children and stay on to watch them bat and bowl.
“My son is very happy to be able to play cricket. Every Monday and Wednesday he is waiting to come here at 4 pm and play the game. I am happy to see my son learning something new and exciting. I hope he becomes a good player and represents Oman in the future,” said an elated Khalfan al Mayahi.
Muneera Saud al Shukairy cannot take her eyes off her son as he runs, trains and tries to bat straight.
“I am so proud of my son that he is trying to learn a new game. Cricket is so new to us but it is exciting. My son is very active and was very excited the first day he brought a form from his school and told me that he wanted to join the cricket training camp. Despite my reluctance he made me sign it. Now I am happy to see him play. He has learned new things in the four weeks he has been coming here. I would be very proud if he one day goes on to play for his country,” she added.
Jesrani, who is Secretary Oman Cricket, looked forward to welcoming more Omani schoolboys and girls to the camp.
“While most of the children training here are from Al Amerat, we would be happy to welcome young players from all parts of the capital. Oman Cricket would extend its full support to groom these kids into good cricketers,” he added.