It all started on a very small scale and targeted primary students, mainly in Gaborone and surrounding areas.
Given the perception among many Batswana towards cricket, the number of the students who took part in the development programme were less than 100. Two years down the line the number of students in cricket development has dramatically risen to 2423. The total number of schools has also sharply risen to 40 from the initial eight.
“We are very happy with the development and it shows that many kids in this country are keen to learn the sport. Bearing in mind that the development programme started just two years ago and is attracting such large numbers of students, is a tremendous achievement,” says Girish Ramakrishna, the development officer for Botswana Cricket Association.
Girish told Sunday Standard that the numbers of both schools and kids might keep on rising if they can carry on with the same momentum. He, however, added that it is not as easy a task as many people might think. “We are facing many challenges. We are dealing with kids and they need to be always taken care of by us and even the parents. You will find that most of the kids here are not given necessary support by the parents, especially during games. There are many kids with great potential but they need their parental support to boost their moral. Hopefully, as time goes on, all will be fine,” he said. Ramakrishna added that next year they want to spread to as many areas as they can. He said they are currently based in Gaborone and surrounding areas and also in Maun.
“While we were conducting the coaching courses for teachers in Gaborone, some of the teachers came from as far as Maun and showed a lot of enthusiasm. Just recently, we went to the area and the turnout from teachers and students was unbelievable. I am optimistic that the area might produce one of the future stars of the country,” he said. He also emphasized that next year they want to start under 11s and eventually the under 13.
“Normally cricket development around the world starts by targeting kids from the age of six and seven. But we want to start from the age of 13 due to a variety of factors, like inadequate resources. We also want to start the women’s league for the kids,’ he said.
Once they cover vast areas around the country, he said, they will hold regional competitions that would end up at the national level and then select a very strong national team.
Ramakrishna, however, lamented the serious shortage of playing ground for cricket. He said if they could secure land they would mobilize funds to develop it.
Meanwhile BCA just completed ‘11 overs carnival tournament’ last weekend sponsored by the World Group Independence in which 12 teams took part. The tournament was won by Gujarat X1 who beat Moghul X1 in the finals. As a curtain raiser to the finals BCA also organised a game between the development side comprising kids from the government schools and private ones. The government schools won the toss and elected to bat. They scored 99 runs in 15 overs for the loss of 1 wicket. The top scorer was Obakeng Amen who scored 44 runs out from 42 balls faced by him. In reply the private school kids were all out for 55 runs in 14 overs.