ASHFAQ-UL-ISLAM: COACHING MYANMAR

What encourages Myanmar’s boys and girls to play cricket?
Since Myanmar is a poor country (GDP per capita of Myanmar $1200; GDP per capita of Thailand $8400), playing in these international matches will give them some inspiration for going abroad. These boys will then make the game more popular by spreading the word about this game.

Picture courtesy of MCF

MCF have started women’s cricket in schools. There are 11 school teams playing cricket but again they will need time because they are very new. The players generally start at 12-years-old and some of them are now senior. There is a system and a focus of developing women’s cricket.

What about cricket in the younger age-groups?
Most of the children in Myanmar focus strongly on going to school and exams so it is quite hard. The seniors are almost always working and therefore it isn’t easy pulling them together but still we are trying to groom new players. We will definitely need more time.

How does cricket compete with other sports in Myanmar?
It’s a bit tough at the moment but if there are some international achievements in cricket then it will gain more popularity and hopefully bring more people into the game. It can work that way so we must start winning the games.

Has there been any progress with school cricket?
There are almost 20 to 30 schools playing cricket and some have been the given the opportunity of being coached by MCF coaches once or twice a week. I think this is a good way of developing cricket at the school level so that we can have a large base of players to work and train with.

MCF is very keen to develop the game in the country. It is a fully disciplined country and they have a chain of command and if we get a few good results then it will attract government attention and they will support us. Sponsors will also start coming in once positive results are achieved.

The MCF received a donation of a cricket mat from Prem School in Chiang Mai at the end of December 2009
Picture by Robert Thaprom

What is happening to the new ground given by the government to MCF?
I haven’t seen it as yet because it is quite far from the main part of Yangon but it is a very positive move. The MCF has already approached the ACC for help and they have shown positive feedback. There are some conditions that need to be fulfilled by us like we need to provide the documents handed to us by the government, the project development program and the budgets. I’ve been told that it is a big piece of land so it is easily possible to build an international-sized ground with practice and indoor facilities there.

Will Myanmar, like other developing cricket nations, also face a problem of the players leaving after a certain age?
I hope the players will stay and play cricket. In this under-19 team there are five players under the age of 16 so hopefully they have a bright future and play a lot more cricket. A few of the players from this under-19 team will play in the next senior ACC tournament and I would like to hold on to about 60% of the players for the next five years.

Htet Lin Aung: Advancing Myanmar’s cause, 2009 ACC U-19 Challenge Cup
Picture by Danny Bowes

What are you aiming to achieve during your two years with the MCF?
My aim would be to develop cricket and the cricketing culture all over the nation. I would also like to see all 14 states playing but there are problems with the grounds but we will take it phase by phase and hopefully we will see progress over the next few years.

Related:
Myanmar Country Profile

Filed Jan 11th, 2010