The bat and the ball has a huge following here in the UAE, and it’s certainly helped by passions of the rich diaspora hailing from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India. It’s these countries, after all, that get to call themselves world pioneers in this sport of gentlemen.
But while it is well known that cricket provides great excitement as a competitive sport, there are so many other benefits to it for kids (learning to keep those pristine whites smudge-free sadly not being one of them). Lauded as one of the fastest field sports in the world, cricket isn’t just for elite athletes or adults trying to relive former sporting glory; it’s a sport for everyone, and kids in particular can benefit enormously from starting in the junior programmes and learning the essential basic cricket skills through fun and engaging activities.
Celebrated all around the world, skills gained from the sport can help children develop their physical fitness in a friendly environment and increase essential fine motor skills, improve endurance and stamina, boost balance and coordination and perfect hand-eye coordination.
And right in the heart of Sports City, the International Cricket Council Academy is teaching youngsters how to develop in this sport and go on to become champions of the wicket and bail.
Having just appointed award-winning cricket coach Qasim Ali as the academy’s new Head of Cricket Development and also having formed a recent partnership with Babyshop to sponsor the Cricket Cubs (the junior section of the club), it is clear that the ICC Academy has plans to produce the best cricket talent, and to invest in the future of cricket in the region.
Will Kitchen, ICC Academy manager, tells us how much the little ones can engage in the sport. “Cricket Cubs is about children simply enjoying some of the very basic skills that playing cricket requires – hand-eye coordination, balance, agility, catching
“However, as well as movement skills, the Cricket Cubs also explore numeracy and communication and the coaches look at ways to build confidence as players experiment different movements. Children love engaging in the variety of challenges cricket has to offer. The programme also engages the Cubs’ parents, too, who support each session and their child. It really is a fantastic development opportunity.”
Another very special aspect is that here girls and boys can play together, with teams who have players as young as 12 competing both with and against adults. Due to the way the game is structured – in particular when your two batsmen are out on the crease and the rest of the team is watching – cricket also offers bonding experiences that other sports don’t. And the relationships formed playing it can last a lifetime.
ICC Academy, Dubai Sports City, next to Dubai Autodrome (04 448 1355).