Saudi Arabia have responded with élan to the new funding proposals set by the ICC and ACC and have composed a ‘Five Year Strategic Development & Operational Plan’ from November 2008 onwards.

“It is a remarkably well-thought out document,” says ACC Development Officer for Saudi Arabia Iqbal Sikander. “Its ambition is sound, its goals achievable and its passion undeniable. The Saudi Cricket Centre is to be congratulated on making an excellent first step.”

Up to US$120,000 is annually available from 2009 to 2016 to those ICC Affiliate countries demonstrating the most cogent and worthy development plans (compared to a maximum of US$50,000 a year before). Saudi Arabia would like as much of the maximum as possible as they seek to populate the vast kingdom with quality cricketers.

The intention of the Saudi Cricket Centre (SCC) is to develop the kingdom's infrastructure, youth and competition programs. "Youth development is the prime objective," says SCC Chief Executive Officer Nadeem Nadwi, "the targets are primary and secondary schools, where we hope to introduce the children to the basics of the game by way of inter-active and video demonstrations."

SCC CEO Nadeem Nadwi in discussion with Iqbal Sikander

A tournament structure for age-groups for U-13, U-15, U-17 up to U-19 as well as regional competitions for the seniors is proposed with particular emphasis being put on investing in turf surfaces at all the new academies and grounds which the SCC hope will be built in stages leading up to 2013.

To that end, the kingdom is being divided into six regions for the purposes of development: Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Medina, Abha and Yanbu. The expectation is that by 2013 at least 180 schools will be competing in nationally-managed competitions. “We have set a target of increasing each age-groups schools per region by five a year from 60 in 2009,” says Mr. Nadwi.

The intention is to create a focussed pathway for talented players to progress. Structured training programs and scholarships for the most promising are proposed with full support being given to the new generation of coaches, curators and umpires that will be needed.

“All in all it is a wonderful effort by the Saudi Cricket Centre, they have presented their case very well and if they can keep the good work going I am sure that Saudi Arabia cricketers will be a force to reckon with sooner rather than later,” says Iqbal Sikander. Saudi Arabia are currently in the ACC Elite groups for U-15 and U-17 cricket and are U-19 Challenge champions.

ICC Global Funding: To Each According to Their Merits

Saudi Arabia Profile

Filed December 1, 2008