The Iran Cricket Federation (ICF) conducted a Level I Coaching Course in Chabahar in the south of the country where ACC Development Officer Iqbal Sikander was assisted by local Level II coaches Yousef Raeisi and Mohzdeh Bavenpour. At the same time a Level 0 Umpiring Course in Tehran was run by local Level II lady umpire Narges Lafooti. The courses drew a total of 58 participants.

Bavenpour and Raeisi's coaching drills

Iran currently have the most number of lady coaches and umpires in the Middle East region. The numbers of players, coaches and umpires have been on the rise in Iran and Iqbal is clearly impressed with their progress. "Iran, although it only recently started playing cricket, has taken a huge interest in the game. Presently, there are about six ladies teams playing regular tournaments organized by ICF,” says Iqbal. National women's captain Nahid Hakimian says, "We are very frustrated that we cannot play more sport but cricket with its costume suits Iranian culture very well and we really want to improve and succeed."

"The ACC has been supporting the efforts of the ICF by providing them with proper cricket equipment, astro-turf pitches and also with coaching support. The Iran Under-16s were finalists in the recent ACC U-16 Challenge Cup in Malaysia. All this indicates that things are looking good in Iran," said Iqbal.

The Iranian government have been supporting the game strongly over the past three years. Land has been allocated for cricket in Tehran, Zahedan, Chabahar, Konarak, Neksher, Isfahan, Kerman, Kermanshah and Iranshah. Most of the cricket played by men is in Chabahar, Konarak and Nekshar while the ladies have taken up the game in Tehran, Zahedan, Kerman, Kermanshah, Isfahan and Mashhad.

Mrs. Lafooti ran the Level 0 Umpiring Course with help from Mrs Habibi, who was also trained by the ACC. The course was the first opportunity for the participants to formally come into contact with the rules of cricket. Lady umpires are needed for the growing numbers of women playing cricket in Iran.

"The Level I Coaching Course was meant for coaches who have already been playing cricket and are now keen to take up coaching along with playing. It was a very interesting course where the participants enjoyed learning the skills of coaching besides participating in game sense and other activities," added Iqbal.

Yousef Raeisi, who has played for the national team and coached the Under-19s, says, "We are getting more coaches and umpires and we still need better facilities and more opportunities to play. There is a lot of talent in Iran and a determination to do well. I hope that courses like this will help many cricketers in Iran."

Iran Cricket Profile

Filed August 17th, 2010