ACC holds development programme for 49 coaches

Iran women's coach Mozhdeh Bavandpour (left) with other coaches at ACC's level-3 coaching course Dhaka Tribune

Mozhdeh Bavandpour, Iran Women's national coach, had never seen so many cricketers on one field as she had done at the National Cricket Academy ground in Mirpur. In Iran, she is used to small groups of cricketers taking part in tournaments, which is nothing like the sprawling mass in Bangladesh.

Bavandpour had spent the last week in Dhaka attending the ACC's level-3 coaching course along with 48 other coaches. Tuesday was the last day of the training programme, when the coaches were assessed as they undertook practice sessions by turn. This is the ACC's last development programme and from now on coaching courses will be different, but no one is really sure of the new direction, which could well be country-specific.

In this particular course, there are coaches from Bangladesh (7), Sri Lanka (3), Qatar (2), Iran (1), China (1), Maldives (1), Afghanistan (4), Singapore (3), Bhutan (2), Thailand (2), Kuwait (3), Bahrain (1), Saudi Arabia (2), Oman (3), Malaysia (3), Nepal (4), Hong Kong (3) and UAE (4) in what could be the last such congregation of regional coaches.

After finishing her stint, Bavandpour sat with some of her class-mates and with some time in hand, she explained to a few journalists why she chose cricket and how the game is played in her country.

"Cricket is not that popular in Iran but I want my country to be interested in the game like Malaysia and Nepal," she said. "So that's the basic reason why I wanted to learn about the game and spread it when I go back home.

"Cricket is played only in some cities in Iran, maybe around 20 people play this game in a city. In Tehran they play cricket. There it is mainly played on the football ground, not in the schools. When we have a tournament we make a camp for cricket and play the game."

The scenario is slightly different for Ge Tao, the tall Chinese coach who used to play volleyball back home. This is his second trip to Bangladesh, having previously toured with the Chinese women's team, who conducted a camp in BKSP in 2010. Although cricket is not big in China, some schools and universities have kept cricket in their sporting curriculum. Coaches who have worked in China will tell you that there are some people in certain regions who recognise the game and are interested in playing too.

"I like cricket because it involves a lot of team work," Tao said. "Before I used to play volleyball and by chance I got to learn about cricket back in China and that's how I started my cricket.

"ACC had founded the Chinese Cricket Association in 2004 and they had a foreign coach who taught us cricket. Cricket is being picked up in China at the moment. The game is being developed in the school level at the moment. People are gradually learning the game back home."

Aminul Islam, ICC's development officer and former Bangladesh captain, encouraged both Bavandpour and Tao to speak to the media. During a break, Aminul said that while it is difficult to have so many coaches in a week-long level-3 coaching programme, the ACC wanted to spend their remaining money on giving these coaches an opportunity.

"This is the last course under ACC funding and this is only the third programme," he said. "We have emphasised on involving coaches from the Associate countries who are, for example, the Under-19 head coach or the assistant coach of their respective national team, with the motive to be upgraded from level 2 to level 3.

"It was not wise to bring in so many coaches under one programme but we did that because this is the very last course under ACC so we wanted to give them the opportunity. The result will be given based on their merit and competency."

Aminul, who is credited to have a strong role in introducing cricket to China at the ground level and will continue in his new role as ICC Asia's development officer, said that the course was to see the efficiency of coaches in areas other than on-field cricket.

"We have tried to observe how they run their training, how good they are tactically and mentally," he said. "We have also tried to find out how they work with individual or the team. They will be given an assignment which is very tough to be honest.

"We told them at the beginning that in these six days we cannot make you a good coach. But you can always use the information that you are taking from here when you go back home. It is never possible to make them learn batting in just two and half hours, so what we did is give them as much information as possible."