Regional girls' clinic seeks to spread the word
There was tangible evidence at Sportpark Harga in Schiedam on Sunday of the more regional approach to developing Dutch cricket which is a hallmark of the KNCB’s new Youth Plan.
Four clubs from the Rotterdam region – VOC, Punjab, Excelsior ’20 and Hermes-DVS – combined forces to run a girls’ introductory clinic at Hermes’ ground, and they were rewarded with an enthusiastic group of more than 40 girls aged between seven and 14.
Not all of them were newcomers to the game: one of the ways in which the organisers had promoted the event was by encouraging existing youth cricketers to bring along their friends. But they had also invited other sports clubs in the region to take part, and also circulated information to local schools.
The participants included a group from the Den Haag club Quick, and another from a nearby hockey club, while the coaching team included a substantial number of Dutch women’s internationals from Hermes-DVS and from further afield.
Activities combined teaching the basic skills of batting, fielding and bowling with making it all as enjoyable as possible, and the children were unanimous that they had had a great time, even if it remained unclear how many of them might take their involvement with the game further.
But there were plenty of takers to sign up for future, club-based events, and there must be a good chance that the initiative will bear fruit in the longer term. It is certainly an approach which might be copied to good effect elsewhere in the Netherlands.
‘We would have been happy with a group of twenty,’ said Erna Truijens, one of the organisers, ‘especially in view of the weather this weekend. So we’re absolutely delighted to have double that number.’
One significant feature was the presence of a group of girls from the Punjab club, which has been working towards the introduction of women's and girls' cricket.
'It isn't straightforward,' says Punjab chairman Ashraf Din, 'in view of some of the traditions and attitudes within the Pakistani community, but we have to begin somewhere. The girls are very enthusiastic, and that's important.'
The participants moved around a cycle of eight different activities arranged and supervised by Dutch international Miranda Veringmeier, each of them concentrating on a different aspect of the game.
Asked what they enjoyed most, almost everyone declared a preference for batting, but it was also notable that many of the girls quickly got the hang of bowling when they had their turn trying to hit a single stump in the nets.
Given how precarious the situation of women’s cricket still remains in the Netherlands, such initiatives can play an important part in attracting new junior players, while other moves, such as the creation of national girls’ squads at under-13, under-15 and under-17 level, are playing their part in encouraging those who have already discovered the game to maintain their interest and improve their skills.