Dutch Schools Challenge tournaments get under way
The Netherlands’ Bilingual Schools’ Challenge will move on a further stage this week with the first two of the four regional tournaments taking place in Voorburg and Utrecht.
Voorburg’s Westvliet ground will be the venue on Thursday for the West Zone tournament involving teams from seven schools, while eight more will contest the Central Zone championship at Maarschalkerweerd on Friday.
Two schools from each tournament will progress to the national finals day, scheduled to take place in Deventer in September.
Supported by coaches from the KNCB and its constituent clubs, teachers from 30 schools across the country have been introducing their Year 2 pupils to the principles and techniques of cricket over the past two months, and now a selection from each class will take part in the first-ever national schools competition.
The Challenge was initiated by the European Platform – Internationalising Education, which co-ordinates the 120 or so Dutch secondary schools which offer a bilingual programme in Dutch and English, and has been implemented in co-operation with the KNCB as part of the latter’s Youth Plan.
Apart from the sheer numbers involved, with around a thousand 13-year-olds being introduced to the game, many of the schools are in centres where there is at present no cricket club, and the programme therefore offers a crucial opportunity for expansion.
Each of the four regional tournaments – there will be two more in Nijmegen and Deventer on 22 and 23 May respectively – will have the same format, with clinics in the morning to help the pupils adjust from training indoors to playing outside, followed by four rounds of eight-over matches with the rules based on those of Kwik Cricket.
Members of the national men’s and women’s squads will be involved in the coaching sessions, and those pupils taking part in the Utrecht tournament will have the opportunity to see a Twenty20 match in the Durant Sports North-South series, the starting time of which has been brought forward to encourage them to stay on and watch.
The schools taking part in the first two tournaments are: