German cricket taking the sport out to the regions
Pathway for junior male and female players was on the agenda for the Deutscher Cricket Bund in this year's Regional Support Programme supported by ICC Europe, with great results.
The aim was to establish the structure for youth leagues in a number of regions across Germany, with the focus on three regions North Germany, Berlin and Hessen; and then the late addition of the NRW region.
The four regions have made tremendous strides this year:
North Germany - leagues at U11, U13, U15 and U17 levels. Hard ball cricket, various rules, every single club is involved with at least one team in one of the leagues.
NRW - league at U15 level, establishment of competitive structure and vision for the future, lots of U19 activity too with players coming through to the men's game on a regular basis.
Berlin - league at U11 level, starting out with a hard ball but then realizing this was too early and changing to softer balls, a valuable lesson for the future.
Hessen - leagues at U15 and U19 level.
Having league structure at age group levels is an important part of development and DCB General Manager Brian Mantle explains why in particular in Germany. "We had noticed that previous programmes had not really brought the required results in terms of retaining youngsters and developing skills. Regular league cricket with a competitive context, winning and losing, team work and a clear pathway mean that juniors are growing at a faster rate as cricketers and are developing a strong connection to the game," said Mantle.
Moving forward Mantle believes this programme will only go from strength to strength, "our experience from other programmes is that this sort of development is always better in the second year. We are sure that the leagues will develop and more clubs will join. The leagues should become an integral part of the German cricketing summer and as the years go by we want to see these children grow into adult players, coaches and administrators who will give something back to the sport," said Mantle.
There was a lot more responsibility given to the region this time to deliver the development of the programme which is a big step forward for the Deutscher Cricket Bund, "the regions chosen were those who had already shown an appetite for youth development and a certain element of self-regulation. It was easy to let the regions get on with things as the trust between them and the DCB was always there. Now we are convinced that almost all of the regions and a vast majority of the clubs have bought in to the DCB vision and we are seeing club after club start youth training at schools and in their clubs," stated Mantle.
Sajid Sikandar, Youth Officer has been working with the regions and has been involved in many different cricket programmes as he explains, "Street20, which was introduced in 2013 can be seen as the basic programme for cricket involvement. This is usually for teenage and younger players, but it has also attracted adults towards cricket. Out of this programme, several clubs have been able to form youth sections where hard ball cricket is promoted," concludes Sikander.