Friday, September 18, 2020

ICC: PNG opens the doors for the next generation of stars

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Two entry-level participation initiatives from Cricket PNG have earned recognition at this year’s ICC Development Awards.

Award: Gray-Nicolls Participation Programme of the Year
The winner of this award will be an outstanding participation programme that either introduces new participants, boys and girls, to cricket or sees participants who have had an initial exposure to the game transition into regular players, whether in a club or community setting.

Winner: Papua New Guinea – Entry-level programmes

In 2019, when Papua New Guinea memorably sealed their berth in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia with a strong showing in the Qualifier, young sports-mad children and teens around PNG could speak about little else. National players such as Assad Vala, Norman Vanua and Damien Ravu are now household names. An added inspiration for the next generation is that many of these players began their cricketing journeys just like them, with PNG’s entry-level programmes.

Gray-Nicolls Participation Programme of the Year – PNG

Over 50% of the national men’s team (Barramundis) and women’s team (Lewas) started their cricket in Cricket PNG’s BSP School Kriket programme. Barramundis Damien Ravu, Nosaina Pokana and Lega Siaka, and Lewas Kaia Arua, Brenda Tau and Vicky Ara’a all have their roots in the association’s flagship programme for those aged 6 to 14, entering its 12th year.

Building on this in 2019 was the Cricket for Good with ChildFund Australia pilot project, targeting those aged above 18.  

Cricket PNG’s vision is to make cricket the country’s favourite family sport. With this aim, these two participation programmes focus on developing a life-long connection with the sport, so that all family members can be involved, and keeping them in the cricket family through the available pathway structures.

The Cricket for Good with ChildFund Australia pilot project took place between August and December 2019. A child and youth-focused intervention which took place in Tubusereia and Pari villages, it aimed to “unite, inspire and empower communities to improve education and attitudes towards gender equality”. It helped the youths in their behavior and attitude, guiding them in changing for better how they respond to their parents, elders of the community and younger children. Those who were newly exposed to cricket chose to then join existing development programmes.

The initiative included creating an integrated cricket and life-skills curriculum with an intensive, in-country training program for facilitators in programme delivery. Facilitators were then transitioned into cricket development officers for Cricket PNG.

Meanwhile, the BSP School Kriket programme continued to exceed sponsor expectations year on year. It had over 235,000 schoolchildren participating in 2019, taking the number to 1.45 million since inception.

Cricket PNG takes pride in that the programme is run in a safe, gender equal, educational and fun environment. The gender ratio is 50/50. It gives boys and girls access to a sport that may otherwise be foreign to them as well as financially and logistically unavailable.

Most of PNG’s senior men’s and women’s team are actively involved in its running and grooming the next generation.

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