The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is looking to find and groom future players of the nation by introducing a junior development initiative for their Under-14s and Under-16s.

This initiative will launch inter-school tournaments for the children and provide them with the best possible training facilities. The ECB has been working closely with the International Cricket Council’s Global Academy on this front.

ECB Chief Executive Dilawar Mani says, “We are looking for the next generation of players. To gain access to the schools is very important in order to identify hidden talent.”

Around 250 children attend training camps every weekend and the ECB are looking for even more. With the junior development plan already drawn up, schools have been asked to participate in U-14 and U-16 tournaments where the top three teams from Sharjah, Dubai, Ajman and Abu Dhabi will eventually play against one other.

“We tend to lose a lot of cricketers after a certain age as they go on to further their studies. The mentality is that there is still no future in cricket here. A child could be groomed right up to 17 years of age and then he or she might just give up the game to pursue a career. We can’t really be sure of anything but we are, and will continue to be, training these children in cricket,” added Mr. Mani.

Speaking on the importance of having local Emiratis take up the game Mr. Mani said that “it is crucial that we get them to play. It may not be a passion of theirs at this point but there are some of them playing in the junior teams and that is something positive. At the end of the day, our aim would be to create a squad of Emirati cricketers for the upcoming Asian Games.”

Related: UAE Country Profile

Filed Oct 2nd, 2009