Zayed Cricket Academy, Abu Dhabi’s most prestigious junior cricket coaching programme put its raw recruits to work during the first Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test match at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Ten boys from the academy, aged 10-14 years old, volunteered as ball boys for the five day test match, which finished with a last-gasp victory for the tourists.
The boys, who all live in the UAE capital, enthusiastically worked as runners, patrolling the boundary and returning balls to the field of play, to ensure the test match ran smoothly and efficiently.
The youngsters of all abilities come from various coaching programmes within the Zayed Cricket Academy, which aims to introduce children to basic cricketing skills whilst stimulating healthy and active lifestyles.
Fondly looking back on an exciting five days volunteering at the test match, nine-year old Rayed Khan said: “I loved volunteering, it was my dream to meet the Pakistani players and my dream has now come true!”
The Academy’s home is the Abu Dhabi Cricket facility, which includes the 18,000 capacity Zayed Cricket Stadium.
The facility is currently undergoing major renovation and will soon boast two new grass football pitches slated for 2017 FIFA Club World Cup training pitches, as well as multi-purpose courts for netball, tennis and basketball.
The Zayed Cricket Academy facilities are also being upgraded. Eight existing wickets have been renovated while 17 grass and eight AstroTurf cricket nets are being installed as are new changing rooms and office facilities.
And, as part of a wider relationship with Abu Dhabi Sports Council, state-of-the-art 500-lux LED Musco floodlights have recently been installed on the two nursery ovals, allowing for evening matches and community sport.
As the sport continues to grow in popularity across the emirate, Zayed Cricket Academy is looking to sign-up more children to its programmes.
“Following the conclusion of such an exciting first test match here in Abu Dhabi, we’re hoping local youngsters have been inspired to not only try their hand at this sport but would also be interested in volunteering as ball boys and girls for the upcoming ODI’s and T20’s at Zayed Cricket Stadium,” explained Matt Boucher, Acting CEO, Abu Dhabi Cricket.
“We intend to position Abu Dhabi as a cricketing hub – with both world-class events and a junior programme designed to inspire the next generation of cricketing super-stars. We want to develop the sport’s ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, to engage our youth, to promote healthy lifestyles and ensure cricket is accessible to kids of all abilities, ages and backgrounds.
“We’ve also introduced a new online system to help parents select the optimal session for their families. My thanks go to Abu Dhabi Sports Council – its support for Abu Dhabi Cricket has been unwavering and we’re privileged to have them spearheading our new mission.”
The Zayed Cricket Academy has enjoyed significant local and international success, most recently its under-18 team claimed victory in the 2016/17 UAE National Academies League.
Academy players have also won scholarships to prestigious schools abroad and several players have been chosen to represent the UAE National Team. Boucher added: “The Academy hopes to build on this success to secure its position as the UAE’s premier youth cricket programme.”
Parents can register their children with the Academy at www.abudhabicricket.ae/academy.
Abu Dhabi Cricket will also play host to Pakistan and Sri Lanka for two ODIs on Monday October 16th and Wednesday October 18th as well as two Twenty20s on Thursday October 26th and Friday October 27th. For further information and for ticket sales please visit www.abudhabicricket.ae.