CE CHAIRMAN IN CATALUYNA
My second regional visit of the summer took Melissa and I to Catalunya, to meet up with the team of guys who are responsible for the dramatic expansion of cricket there.
We were met by Ali Gondal, Aseq a Arman Nadim and Armaghan Khan. These guys make up the support staff for Cricket Catala President and CE RDO Robert Masih.
Anyone who follows cricket in Spain will be aware of the rapid growth in this region.
This year has seen twelve teams compete in two leagues. The top two in each league will play out semi finals, and the winner of the final will travel to the CE league finals.
This year the teams that are competing in the Catalunya leagues are from Barcelona, Tarragona and Girona. Next year will see the inclusion of Lleida, some 100km inland from the coast. At the moment there are to be two teams entering into next years league from Lleida, but no one would be surprised if this were to increase by the end of this year.
Robert and his committee have already elected a Cricket Catala Development Officer. Aseq a Arman Nadim has put a lot of work in this year with Robert. This hard work is reflected in the smooth running of Cricket Catala´s cricket program in 2010.
Robert has now elected a second Development Officer from Llieda. Amjad Farooq Ayad will be responsible for the inland region of Catalunya. This will now give the committee direct points of contact in Llieda ,Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona. This will play an important part in the regions communication network.
When I asked the guys what they thought the league program would look like for 2011, they told me they can already confirm twenty two teams that wish to enter. This will pretty much double this years figures. The format will be decided later in the year.
Moreover, league cricket is not the only cricket activity happening in Catalunya. The Junior program is beginning to make good progress. CE Junior Director Neil Brook has already overseen a junior trials day this year, which has produced three players for this years Spanish under seventeen squad, who travel to the Isle of Man in July.
The growing pool of junior players in Catalunya are overseen and coached by Spanish senior squad player Armaghan Khan. Armaghan tells me he is very excited at the prospect of junior cricket in Catalunya, and that the boys can´t wait for the tournament to arrive. He is also keen to further his own coaching qualifications, which CE will assisit him with. There are also talks due in August to discuss getting cricket into the schools of the region.
The Catalunian government have been great supporters of cricket over the past couple of years. In fact, Robert could not attend this meeting with us, as he had escorted the Sports Departments Co-ordinater of the Generalitat de Catalunya in Barcelona, Mr Jordi Soler, to Lords, for a day of test match cricket. This was a great opportunity for Mr Soler to see the pinnacle of this great game, and I am sure this would have enthused him even more.
Mr Soler has worked hard with Cricket Catala, and Robert and his team are very greatful for all of his help. Cricket Espana would also like to thank him for all of his assistence, and hope that he continues to be part of the development program in Catalunya.
With more teams set to compete next year Cricket Catala have prioritised securing another venue. Progress is being made, and they are confident that they will have secured one by the end of this year. With three grounds available for cricket in the region pressure from the league program will be eleviated, and space will be created for other cricketing events.
Cricket Catala also made clear to us how important the cooperation of all the regions clubs has been. For cricket to succeed in any region everyone has to work together. Robert, his committee and CE would like to thank all the clubs for their efforts this year.
These are really exciting times for cricket, and this could be felt during our three hour meeting with Cricket Catala.
Melissa and I would like to thank the guys for a great evening, and wish them all the best for the rest of the year.
Our next stop is Bilbao, to meet up for the first time with cricketers on the north coast of Spain.
Chairman, Cricket Espana