Thailand have won their second ICC Development Programme Annual Award. Having won last year for Best Women's Cricket Initiative, this year the Cricket Association of Thailand have taken The Spirit of Cricket Award, given to acknowledge its work with underprivileged Hill Tribe children and orphans in Northern Thailand, providing them with education alongside cricket activities. Feisal Tajuddin of Malaysia receives the singular honour of being Volunteer of the Year thanks to his work in growing cricket at all levels in Malaysia.

The ICC Development Programme Awards are in their eleventh year and this year’s judging panel featured featured ICC Chairman N. Srinivasan and former Presidents Alan Isaac and Mustafa Kamal.

Feisal Tajuddin, who until this month had been Honorary Treasure of the Malaysia Cricket Association for the past six years, is still the longest serving member currently in the MCA Executive Committee and has been playing and then coaching cricket since the early 1980s. “I have loved every minute of it,” he says. “I have been truly blessed to be involved in cricket all this while. It has been an experience money cannot buy.”

Feisal Tajuddin walking the talk
2014 was a particularly busy year for Mr. Tajuddin as he gave up management of his accountancy firm to focus “24/7, 365 on cricket.” He was manager of the national team which climbed from Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 to Division 3, taking in the ACC Premier League, where Malaysia beat Afghanistan, a triangular with Singapore and the MCC and the Incheon Asian Games. He was manager throughout, on the field at practises, strategizing off it, thinking, planning, working, caring, believing, boosting morale, building character, helping the players play to their best, helping the young men and women he managed be the best people they could. “It has been a great opportunity to serve MCA, a greater opportunity to serve cricket and this recognition from the ICC is a great honour fro for everyone in the cricketing fraternity. There are hundreds, if not thousands who do what I do, I’m just lucky in that it has never felt like work,” said Mr. Tajuddin the morning after the announcement.

National player Nikom Mayer (far right) of the Akha hill tribe with his family

A process similarly followed by those who brought cricket to the Hill Tribes of north west Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai and Lamphun. “It started in 2001, we, some English expats, some local Thai teachers, (notably Aroon Namchokchaicharoenkul, an ACC Level 1 Coach at Cholaprathan Pataek School and Christopher Dodd, an Englishman who retired to Lamphun), introduced cricket to these hill tribe children, many of whom stay in foundations and receive some sort of charitable support. The children are distinguished by a seriousness, free of distraction, for study and for sport,” says Cricket Association of Thailand Chief Executive Mohideen Kader. Success has come at domestic and international level too, with Chiang Mai perennial contenders in the men’s and women’s and youth championships and who have several players in the national women’s team. “They have a respect for the values of the game which is refreshing and true to what we believe to be the ‘Spirit of the Game’,” says Mr. Kader, “when I will tell them about the award they will actually take it in their stride – they’re used to winning prizes!”

ICC’s Head of Global Development Tim Anderson said: “I’m pleased to be able to congratulate the 2014 Award winners who have all demonstrated incredible dedication to growing our sport. It’s also important to note the diversity of this year’s winners (in addition to Malaysia and Thailand: Argentina, Jersey, Papua New Guinea, Uganda) who, together with the Associate Members who recently competed in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, are demonstrating the strength of cricket’s development outside its traditional territories.”

Indeed so. On hearing the news of Thailand’s win, Mr. Kader said, “I must also mention that we are reaching out to the three troubled provinces in the south – Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, which are Muslim majority provinces bordering Malaysia. Hopefully cricket will bring peace to these places.”

Pepsi ICC Development Programme Award winners
Asia’s 2014 Development Winners

Filed April 7th, 2015