Maha Sarakham, which literally means “City of Great Education” in Thai, is hosting the country’s current Youth National Games. It is the third time cricket has featured in the event and demonstrates the further embedding of cricket into the sporting curriculum of Thailand.
Maha Sarakham is 470 kilometers from Bangkok, to the north-east of the country in Isan Province and, as a result of the Youth Games, cricket is being played in Maha Sarakham province for the first time. 16 of the 17 provinces (Phuket is the exception), in which cricket has been taken to the schools by the local players and coaches of Thailand, are competing in the event. This is four more than last year. The young men and women are playing 15-overs a side; the finalists, by the time they’ve finished, will have played six games over the ten days of the competition.
The Cricket Association of Thailand reports that, “there have already been a series of qualifying tournaments in the provinces around Thailand and teams have gained valuable experience as they played each other to reach the main competition and it is hoped Maha Sarakham will see cricket played at a higher standard than ever before.” Chiang Mai thanks to their head-start and active development program are favourites to win but Uttaradit is emerging as a consistent rival and Lamphun, training alongside the Chiang Mai cricketers for the past few seasons, have been making big strides.
Over 10,000 athletes, from 40 sports, will be in Maha Sarakham. The annual Thailand National Youth Games are held in high esteem in the country, the stage where Thai sporting renown is first established. It is a real achievement to qualify for this competition and for many of the entrants it is perceived to be one of the highlights of their life.
Thailand has reported an increase of approximately 16% in youth playing numbers since 2011. The National Youth Games along with the Youth Championships and University Games “very much form part of a pathway for players who want to move up to national and senior team cricket,” says CAT Chief Executive Mohideen Kader. “The kind of exposure these players get at the national level also gives them a lot of help when it comes to school and university applications,” he adds.
National Youth Games, Cricket
Thailand Cricket Profile
Filed March 20th, 2013