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NPCA junior development unearths young budding talent in Nairobi

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 24 – In today’s digital era, it’s hard to convince many youngsters to come to the grounds regularly but in that aspect Nairobi cricket has witnessed quantity being translated to amazing quality!

Rightly so, there is no gainsaying that the noble game of “bats and balls” is evolving well in the city- thanks to Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association’s (NPCA) initiative to establish a fantastic youth and senior structured programme through its affiliate clubs.

The NPCA development league (Division Two) is ongoing and has given an opportunity to a myriad junior cricketer in the City to realize their potential at a tender age.

NPCA Chairman Kanti Rabadia says cricket is booming here and there’s plenty of junior matches in the calendar moving forward.

With Nairobi County rediscovering its potential as a thriving cricket hub, Kanti sees light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s been a fantastic start to the senior season, especially the Super League. Junior cricket is also on the rise. Behind a successful senior league there is always a junior development competition and I’m seeing great days moving forward,” Kanti said, adding that development of junior cricket is picking up well.

He narrates: “It is headed in the right direction with renewed fervour and incessant improvements on the horizon. Compared to where we were a few years ago, the level of competition has improved significantly among juniors.”

Raja Sarkar, Goan Institute Head of Cricket Development Program reveals an ambitious large pool of players of under 15 and under 19 that they have spread into the “B” and “C” sides. “We have a pool of almost 30 plus players. Our “C” team comprises of players from the age of 10 to 16 largely. We are fortunate to be sponsored by Regal Equipment and Pocuteq without which running such a programme would prove very difficult. We also have a tie up with Sydney Thunder who support us in knowledge transfer and send us training material to help with coaching,” Sarkar explains.

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Development program at Kanbis is something akin to the feeling of happiness as domination of Super League has brought.

Rakep Patel of Kanbis expounds:

“We have around 38 players in the development program from age 6- 18. They are coached by Nelson, myself amongst other senior players. We have held various camps over school holidays as well as training them on weekdays and Saturdays.We have always held the belief that the stronger the development program the stronger the top tier teams and have been proven right by the emergence of Dhiren Gondaria, Sachin Bhudia, Pushpak Kerai, Ankit Hirani, Jayant Mepani, Mikunj Pindolia and Nischay Kerai all products of the development program. Most are regulars now in the Super League and some have established themselves in the national team. That’s real pride, real fruits being borne.The fruit is sweetest when its your own succeeding so as much as success on top matters we have always had special emphasis on the development program.

As a club we always evolve and make them feel accomodated by pick and drop activity from their homes as well as meals provided at all sessions. The coaches at Kanbis also ensure new fun training methods for each age group to maximize output and engagement as they can’t be coached as professionals. The development program has been successful but, in such acts, resting on laurels never works, will always look to evolve and achieve more. As we always emphasize to them that ” aim for the stars you might end up becoming one”

They all are stars of our club.”

Swamibapa Cricket Club has also discovered many youngsters in its production line.

19-year-old Harendra Mukeshbhai Kerai, 21-year-old Jignesh Shantilal Hirani, 17 year old Prashang Shantilal Hirani and 16 year old Krish Hitendrakumar Haria are amongst the cream of the Swamis youth squad. “These are the future stars of Kenyan Cricket” quipped Narendra Patel of Swamibapa. He added “The first 3 are playing in Super League consistently.

The fourth player is from Swamis development team, but this season is playing for our B side and is currently the leading wicket taker in Division 1.

Harendra – Middle Order Batsman/Wicket Keeper is still in School, Jignesh Hirani – Off-Spiner/Middle order batsman in College while Prashang Hirani – Middle order batsman is still in School.”

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‘The boys have come through our development team in the last 3-4 years. They also won their NPCA Under 15 tournaments twice.

Apart from Jignesh who debuted a couple of years earlier in our A Team, the other boys are playing for our A team for the first time this season.

Their performance so far has been good. Krish is a very good bowler and helpful batsman and we are planning to push him to A team maybe next season,” concluded the flamboyant Narendra, who is also the NPCA Secretary, and himself an old guard and icon of Swamibapa.

Meanwhile, SIKH UNION CLUB has also enhanced its Junior development program, which has been running since 2019. The Club is running various camps to promote cricket and train their youth.

Avtar Kundi and Mr Kapil Joshi have been in-charge of the junior development cricket program with Member of sports Mr Nindi Chana and the academy members Kalpesh Solanki playing a key supporting role. Two full time coaches have been appointed to train the Juniors during weekends and school holidays.

The youngsters are taken through stringent fitness program as well as high level coaching clinics in Batting, Bowling and Fielding, apart from leadership mentoring and dietary controls.

Youngsters from the age of 9 to 17 years both Boys and Girls are involved in this program. Sikh Union Club raised their  third team this year and introduced some of the youngest players to 2021 NPCA league for its development team, among them, Manveer singh, Arshdeep Singh Kundi, Yug Patel, Avraj Singh Kundi, Satbir singh, Ranjot Singh, Harsh Patel all aged 14 and the youngest players of the tournament Kavit Joshi and Paramveer Singh Matharu both aged 9 years.

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