Cricket fever hit summer camps in the Czech Republic as hundreds of children were introduced to the game.
It is usual for Czech children to go to summer camps in remote parts of the Czech Republic during their school holidays. Most camps concentrate on learning English and doing many traditional summer outdoor activities. This year however, around 658 Czech children also experienced the thrill of learning and playing cricket during their summer break.
The first summer camp to be hit by the cricket fever was the Hluboka summer camp taking place down in southern Bohemia. The camp was provided with sets of Kwik Cricket equipment by John McIntyre from Plzen CC. He arranged for the equipment to be available at the camp so that the children could try their hands at cricket as part of their summer camp activities.
John, originally from New Zealand and now working in Plzen as a teacher, organised some coaching sessions with other staff members for the kids, and he reported that the children loved it.
"They played cricket all the time after learning the basics" said John.
"Many used a baseball style but the games were fun and the kids were quick to learn the rules".
Closer to Prague, at the Euro Camp near Tabor, Scott Page, the Czech National Cricket Coach , conducted four separate days of coaching during July and August, with over 150 kids attending each camp.
The theme of the camp was "10 days in Australia", so it was the perfect place to introduce cricket to Czech children who had never seen the sport before.
Seven groups of 20-25 kids from ages 7 to 17 years learnt how to bat, bowl, catch and run between the wickets in fun-packed half hour "coaching" sessions in the morning. The groups also watched the ICC video "This is cricket" where they saw "live" cricket for the first time.
After lunch, each group split into the 7 Australian State teams and played cricket for the first time. The three older groups played a round robin "continuous cricket" tournament, and the four younger groups also played "continuous cricket" with the two winners playing off in a final.
This format gave every child a chance to have a go, without having to play too many games, where girls and boys can play together on equal terms.
Zaneta Dolezova, Camp Director said that after the "Cricket Day", the kids just kept playing and playing every chance they got.
"One group of the youngest kids in the third camp challenged every other group to a game each day for a week, and remained undefeated champions of that camp" she said.
Also during the Cricket Days, the native Czech teachers challenged the English teachers to a fun match, to show the kids just what to do, and finally in the last camp, the Czech team had its first win over the English camp teachers.
There were kids everywhere with team flags, singing team songs and typical Czech supporters' songs.
"The atmosphere was just great, the kids loved it, and so did all the teachers who played" added Zaneta.
Scott Page who organised these coaching days said he was extremely happy with this year's activities.
"We have done many smaller camps in the past, but never quite this amount of kids in the one session" he said.
"It is a challenge to teach the basics of a new sport to anyone in such a short time, but most of these kids are still learning English as a second language".
Scott hopes that many of the kids will one day join one of the many cricket clubs that are forming around the Czech Republic.
"This was the first time any of the kids actually saw, learnt and then played cricket. They all had a lot of fun, and I'm sure we will have many more young cricket players in the near future."
To watch some Czech kids playing continuous cricket go to:
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