EUROPEAN CRICKET NETWORK
Our Cricket’sCool project is growing every year. So far, some 2,400 local school children have attended the ECN international events held in Malaga, Spain over the last four events, and that number is expected to reach well beyond 3,000 in the upcoming ECC23.
To make an impact on the sustainability of cricket across a whole continent seems like a large undertaking. The European Cricket League AG saw to make this happen back in 2019 through a format to be known as ‘10-over cricket’ – 60 deliveries per innings – Bat vs Ball.
The format is faster and certainly more furious, a high-octane version of the T20 and ODI’s normally on show, but it is ideal for tournament cricket with as many as five games played daily and from it the sport is finding a new interest from spectators and players who haven’t previously been following.
This includes a younger generation in locations you just wouldn’t seem credible before now and with it an undertaking to make a difference at the grass roots level by introducing newcomers to the sport.
This is what the European Cricket Network is all about, and while providing the backdrop to making the stars of today shine that bit brighter, it has always been the vision of Daniel Weston and a growing team alongside him who share in that same vision, that are making an impact in the game.
One such project that has turned this vision into a reality is an initiative aimed at local school children known as Cricket’sCool.
An ECN project where youngsters are invited through their schools, to experience first-hand the game of cricket and take part in activities laid on by qualified coaches who introduce the children to some of the basic skills associated with the game.
So far, some 2,400 local school children have attended the ECN international events held in Malaga, Spain over the last four events, where boys and girls from ages 8 – 18 have participated across 17 different schools and institutions. By the end of the forthcoming ECC in October 2023 that number of attendees involved will have reached well beyond 3,000.
With this kind of interaction with local schools it comes as no surprise that local authorities, the sports council for the region and the schools themselves have all been big supporters of the programme having seen for themselves the reaction of the students taking part, as the benefits of such an initiative are plain to see.
European Cricket first introduced local school children to the ECC in 2021, the first to be held in Cartama, Malaga part of Andalucia. The response then from teachers and students meant a decision was taken to create a larger opportunity for others at the ECL22 and with funding being provided by the regional town council for sport, the Junta de Andalucia and support from a local transport company, Autocares Mateos the targets set out at this stage were soon surpassed.
Realising that by providing a backdrop where youngsters could experience an outdoor activity, a ball sport equal for all comers and played in a controlled environment during both the international events held in the region, meant the project could thrive by giving more opportunity to more schools and their students more than once a year.
Once the plans were laid out, all that was needed was a name for the project to operate under, something that was provided soon enough by the ECN CEO himself, Roger Feiner.
With the 10-over tournaments already providing the platform for the adults to showcase their talent, the undertaking to develop the game from the bottom upwards and create a pathway whereby these children could then take up the sport at their local club and progress into a team playing regularly, so that one day they could compete in the very same tournament they once attended while at school, is now a very real possibility and would complete the legacy for ECN.
Since European Cricket committed to developing the game through the various types of tournaments now played across the continent, there is a noticeable increase in the uptake of players at all levels, from a varying demographic wanting to be involved in the sport in countries not synonymous with cricket…
The Cricket’sCool project has benefitted greatly from the same commitment and is already having an impact on a younger generation of players, with a number of local students having attended European Cricket events at Cartama, now regularly involved in the local coaching sessions. Testament to this is the same person leading the Cricket’sCool project, ECB Level 2 coach – Jay Wild.
Jay has himself been involved in the development of the game through coaching on the Costa del Sol. Since his time working on the Cricket’sCool project he has been actively working on bringing more competitive opportunities to juniors in Spain with similar tournaments alongside Cricket Espana, the Spanish federation and continuing his work in schools, delivering the ICC CRIIIO programme as another introduction to the game.
What will Cricket’sCool look like for the next event?
Students from across the Malaga area will be in attendance with 11 local schools taking part each day during the midweek action plus the local junior club players are due to attend at weekends at this year’s ECC:
The schools to take part from municipality of Cartama:
- Sunland Novaschool
- CEIP Cartima
- CEIP La Mata
- IES Valle del Azahar
- CEIP La Campina
- CEIP Ntro. Sra. de los Remedios
- CEIP El Sexmo
The schools from other areas of Malaga:
- Aloha College in Marbella
- MIT College in Malaga
- The Ark Christian School in Fuengirola
- British International School of Marbella
Each school is invited to participate for 2 days so as many as 70 school children from each can experience the atmosphere of a live sporting event. As this is a live TV event there is always something for the cameras to focus on when there are breaks in play with the activities these children are invited to be a part of.
This can range from providing the guard of honour for the teams at the start of a game as well as being at the coin toss with the match officials and team captains which is recorded and shown live at the start of the next match.
Once seeing themselves on the television screens in the public areas students can take time out to watch the live action, ask questions about the game and can even meet with players and commentators, get autographs or have their photo taken with the tournament trophy as a memento of their day.
The relaxed atmosphere coupled with the varied itinerary always sees the time pass quicker than anyone would like, but the encouragement and enthusiasm from all concerned is what fuels the ongoing efforts and it seems that the longer this programme goes on for, the more budding cricketers there will be looking at taking centre stage in the coming years where they themselves can light up this cricket arena….
EUROPEAN CRICKET NETWORK