|European Championships: Northern Ireland, July 2002|
The View From Lord's: The ICC European Development Programme
17 July 2002
Ian Stuart took over the European Development Manager's office at Lord's less than two years ago and the championships in Northern Ireland will be one of the biggest occasions he has so far experienced.
He's South African born and before moving to cricket's headquarters he was Enterprise Manager of Winchester College where he promoted the well being of one of britain's leading public schools. He's described the championships as a "special event in the ICC European development programme" and points to the importance of new systems and procedures being introduced to the senior European tournament for the first time.
The innovations Ð including an ECC-appointed tournament referee and specific job descriptions for the third umpire Ð have already been tested in other European tournaments. Ian Stuart has special thanks for the ICU's organising committee whose members he described as a "talented group of committed volunteers."
"I wish all countries much success over the duration of this tournament", he said. "I also look forward to charting the progress made by all teams, including a number of young players who have come through their countries' development programmes successfully and are competing for the first time at this level."
Home Grown É and Young
So just what is the ICC's European Development Programme for which In Stuart has overall responsibility? We asked the European Office for this plain man's guide.
The Programme works, through a variety of development initiatives, to raise standards in countries where cricket is already established, as well as introducing cricket to new audiences, with the emphasis very much on indigenous and youth development. The programme is run from the Europe Office at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, with a dedicated staff assigned to administer the programme on behalf of the ICC, reporting through the regional body, the European Cricket Council.
The European Cricket Council, established in 1997, currently has a membership of 23 countries: 9 ICC Associate members (Denmark, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Italy & Scotland) and 13 ICC Affiliate members (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden & Switzerland). There are approximately 15 new territories Ð countries where cricket is in its infancy Ð ranging from Estonia to Yugoslavia, which also receive support through the programme. We work with national governing bodies within each country rather than individual clubs and personnel.
Support given to countries comes in the form of annual youth camps, coach and umpire education courses, coaching initiatives to assist youth development, as well as roadshows and a European based academy.
Since 1997, we have assisted, both financially and administratively, with the installation of numerous non-turf and portable pitches, and the targeted distribution of a substantial supply of youth cricket equipment. Coaching manuals and videos have been produced in a variety of languages, as well as posters and promotional items such as brochures and wallplanners, plus a monthly newsletter.
A comprehensive tournament programme exists offering all member countries an opportunity to compete at international level. Up to 12 tournaments are held annually, ranging from youth (Under 13, 15, 17, 19) to senior men's (Under 24 and full international) and women's (Under 21 and full international) levels.
In 2000 and 2001, we ran European Cricket Day to promote the game across Europe. A huge variety of events, including matches, coaching courses, festivals and open days, were staged across Europe, in places as diverse as Belarus, Malta, Iceland and Israel, with almost 30 countries and over 2500 people taking part. The day was a huge success in the two years it ran, and in 2002 we expanded the initiative to become European Spirit of Cricket Weekend, to encourage cricketers across Europe to 'play hard, play fair' and to raise money for a cricket project for disadvantaged youngsters in Kosovo, to be run in conjunction with UK-based charity Children's Aid Direct. The European Imagination Roadshow, a newly introduced initiative aimed at raising awareness of how the game may be marketed within member countries, recently finished its five week run. The roadshow began at the annual youth camp in England, then travelled through France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. The roadshow crew travelled 3500 km and reached nearly 4000 children and adults over the five-week period, culminating in a final session on Spirit of Cricket Weekend in Paris.
For further information about all European Development Programme initiatives, as well as photos, competitions and links to member country websites, visit the European Council's own website at www.ecc.cricket.org