Another first in Finland

Thu, Nov 20, 2008 5:24 PM

Last weekend saw the Finnish Cricket Association (FCA) take another huge step down the grass roots junior cricket development pathway, with a 1st ever joint junior and National Squad training camp held at the Kuortane Sports Institute, host location of the European 2008 Indoor Tournament last February.

Whilst FCA has been co-operating for over 3 years with the Kuortane Institute during which time numerous elite camps, coaching courses and a local admin & governance forum have been held there, this camp represented the first time that both local junior and senior players attended the same weekend. And what a great success it was too!

For 2 young members of the senior national squad, new skipper Jonathan Scamans and his team mate Madhu Bhandari, cricket started a day earlier than the rest of the squad on Thursday when they left Helsinki to run a school teacher’s introduction to cricket afternoon in Seinäjoki.

The event was the brainchild of FCA’s Development Officer Maija Scamans and local enthusiast Juhani Paananen, coach of the junior Finnish baseball team "Alajärven Ankkurit". The young coaches ran 2 vigorous sessions to 20 school teachers with no previous experience of the game, and received a great reception for their efforts.

Friday saw the senior squad joined by coach Julian Roach, FCA’s squad management team Andrew Armitage, Yasir Abdul-Quadir and Maija Scamans, along with coaching mentor Ross Walker invited over as special guest from the Teachsport organisation of Lewisham, London. Players were put through tough training drills and "bleep tested" already on Friday afternoon, in advance of the arrival of the junior group midday Saturday.

The group of budding junior cricketers consisted of 13 from the Töölö primary school in Helsinki (most of whom visited Lords with Teachsport last summer), 6 other youngsters from FCA’s Sunday junior group and 7 children from the Alajärven Ankkurit baseball club.

To kick off their camp the senior national squad held a pro-active 2-hour drills session/skills tournament with the children, that proved great fun for all, after which the main Kuortane sports hall was split in two so the 2 groups could train separately in adjacent areas. Later Saturday afternoon the children watched a demonstration of facing 90mph deliveries from the Bola bowling machine, speeds perhaps more familiar from the ice hockey rinks for these juniors!

Sunday morning at 0730 saw both groups take a morning jog and stretch together in the fresh zero temperatures, before moving indoors again for more cricket fun. The children then enjoyed watching a Wings to Fly DVD before putting newly-found skills into practice again during a great last games session taken by Ross and Maija.

Sunday afternoon brought the whole group together again for a presentation of merit awards, generously provided by Teachsport for the juniors and recognition awards for a few of the senior squad members. A tired but immensely satisfied bunch of cricketers then jumped on the team coach for the drive back to Helsinki and some well-earned rest!

The camp once again made the local newspapers, and FCA plans are now afoot following the huge success of this camp to take steps towards starting up an official u-13 national squad. Watch this space!

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