One of the pillars of the British Empire was its emphasis on sporting values. The ethos of ‘play up and play the game’ may have covered up a multitude of sins nevertheless it actually did inspire millions to try and live with a code of propriety and fairness. It’s a code Singapore likes to operate with, and to tap into that ethos the Singapore Cricket Association has introduced a ‘Discover Cricket Program’.

The Discover Cricket Program is “aimed at introducing cricket to kids between the ages of 8 and 12 at local Ministry of Education schools”, says the SCA (Singapore Cricket Association). It “is a result of the SCA's continuing quest for creating awareness of the game of cricket and developing the game in the Island.” In perfect bureaucratic-speak it is being promoted as “a socialisation program” but to you and I this means that as many children as possible are going to be shown the joys and benefits of hitting, throwing, running and catching. The empire- and culture- and dynasty-building are going to come from the Discover Cricket Program which the SCA says “focusses on inculcating life values such as spirit of self-confidence, self-reliance, leadership, teamwork, discipline, justice, fair play, etc. through the game of cricket.”

Thailand started something similar at the start of the millennium with ‘Sawasdee Cricket’ and the results have been evident. A country with no indigenous cricket now has youth teams and a senior women’s teams made up almost exclusively of Thai schoolchildren and university students who are playing with increasing success.

As the SCA put it: “The SCA plans to introduce the game of cricket to new schools at the primary school level through this Program and encourage more local schools to participate in junior cricket competitions by providing opportunities at both primary and secondary school levels. It is recognised that growth in this area will only be achieved through a strong school's competition structure and accordingly the emphasis at all times will be on sustainable long term development with appropriate infrastructure and support systems.”

It all starts with a ‘Discover Cricket Carnival’ for 300 primary school children and their parents this weekend ("Cricketing Skills in a fun filled manner and while at it, teach them values and contribute towards creating a healthy lifestyle and fit kids.”). The Carnival will then be followed by a customised program of 12 modules delivered weekly in one- and two-hour sessions at the schools themselves and at the SCA’s Kallang ground, confirms the SCA’s Sarika Prasad who is leading Youth Development.

The British public school ethos spawned enduring champions that have thrived long after the end of the Empire in ways that its founders could never have imagined; Thailand has started, Singapore’s about to. Malaysia next with ‘Kampung Cricket’?

Singapore Cricket Profile
Cricket – The Sport of Empire

Filed July 25th, 2012