Austria's focus on youth and women's cricket development
Austria Cricket Association
Wed, Jun 18, 2014 3:12 PM
It is known that to achieve both increased participation and superior performance of the National Teams, there needs to be a coordinated, prolonged focus on youth and women cricketers.
In regions such as Austria, their development is normally restricted by training capability, training facilities and importantly critical mass. Cricket is generally not well known and there are currently only a limited number of clubs with such members. The key to success is in the development of youth programs, pooling players, coaches and other resources to have the greatest effect.
In the name of Siva Nadarajah, the person who did so much for the development of cricket, a not-for-profit organization called the 'Siva Nadarajah Austrian Sports for Youth Institute' has been created. In partnership with the Austrian Cricket Association, the SNASY Institute manages the Youth and Women's Cricket Development program across the whole of Austria, covering not only core cricketing skills, but also on and off field competencies, such as mental strength and the skills of non-playing roles. It will also instil a sense of collaboration and community.
The program targets both participation and excellence, with coaching and tournaments for schools and clubs plus an Academy, which will lead to the development of Junior National Teams. This will in turn lead to a more continuous stream of developed talent for our senior National Team, as highlighted by the example of Armaan Randhawa. These activities do not replace, but rather supplement the work done by the clubs.
The Academy program began in the spring with over 70 young players (boys and girls, aged 11 -19), and with over 25 volunteer coaches from eight clubs. The first major milestone has been to prepare two Junior National Teams for a tour to Denmark in August. The interest has been such that even younger players are interested in getting together - so a Little Masters Academy is also starting up for those 5 - 11.
To support increased participation, SNASY supported the 14th running of the popular Austria Cricket Club Wien, (ACCW), Future Schools Cup, which took place on 30th/31st May at the Austria Cricket Stadium in Vienna. Over 2 days, exactly 4,500 runs were scored by the 83 young players from 9 different clubs and schools from Germany, Slovakia and Austria - all highest numbers to date - played over 33 matches, on three pitches in glorious sunshine.
The tournament focuses on the younger, less experienced players, with over 80 kids aged between 5 and 13 taking part in one hardball and one softball competition. Visitors from Munich, Hessen and the British International School, Bratislava added to around 50 young players from Austria, including boys and girls from the Vienna Bilingual School and the Danube International School - schools where ACCW and SNASY have been coaching students. And, the ever improving and growing ACCW Girls squad took part.
The key goal was the development of the players, again on and off the field, and this is achieved through competitive cricket, gaining real match practice, building friendships and having fun! Over the years, this development can be clearly seen - both in terms of the quality of the cricket being played by the teams, the number of players taking part and the performances of individuals. Players found themselves playing not only for their own team, but also helping other teams whose numbers were lower, further promoting the great spirit and the positive and respectful behaviors seen. The keenness of the players was a pleasure to see - the willingness to play for any side as long as it meant more cricket!