ICC Announce Global Development Award Winners

Celebrating the work of the game's Associate Members, the ICC Development Awards will today announce their winners across four categories.

Ifira Sharks Vanuatu Blast
Ifira Sharks celebrate winning the inaugural Vanuatu Blast

The International Cricket Council are rolling out their global 2020 Development Awards today, celebrating the work of the game’s 92 Associate Members across the five regions.

Regional award winners/global nominees were announced a fortnight ago, highlighting progress made in game development, women’s cricket, digital fan engagement and using the sport to drive a social impact after a pandemic-dominated year of uncertainty.

Over the course of the day we’ll report on the award winners as they come to hand, with a number of individual announcements expected

The first cab off the rank: ICC Digital Fan Engagement of the Year.

ICC Digital Fan Engagement of the Year Winner – Vanuatu Cricket Association

Ifira Sharks Vanuatu Blast
Ifira Sharks celebrate winning the inaugural Vanuatu Blast (VCA)

After their barnstorming social media and streaming campaigns for the T10 Blast and Women’s T20 Finals, Vanuatu has edged out USA, Jersey, Namibia and Kuwait for the first global gong of the development awards.

As the Ifira Sharks claimed the inaugural T10 Blast, the tournament reached millions of fans around the world, craving a sporting fix with Covid curtailing much of the globe’s events.

“It was exciting because we were able to showcase the sport that we all love and play to our friends and families, who would not have been able to watch us play otherwise and that provided comfort to a lot of us,” Ifira wicketkeeper and Vanuatu international Jamal Vira told the ICC.

“At the end of the day, we were all happy that we were bringing awareness to cricket as a sport in Vanuatu and to the potential of Associate cricket.”

Not only did the events boost the popularity of ni-Vanuatu cricket outside of the country, the digital initiative had significant effects in the country too, with a number of teams forming on the islands as a result of the exposure. It led to a four-team women’s T20 competition on the island of Santo, with two new players unearthed and fast-tracked into the national training camp.

Cricket 4 Good Social Impact Initiative of the Year – Uganda Cricket Association

Uganda used there time and resources to give back (Cricket Uganda)

Uganda has taken out the Cricket 4 Good Social Impact Initiative of the Year ahead of Bhutan, Indonesia, Italy and Peru. Like many countries, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Uganda hard, forcing the country into many months of lockdown. Many failed to receive any government support.

Far from going into its shell, the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) stepped in to provide for those in need. The UCA supported local clubs, local cricketers, development hubs, and neighbourhoods around Lugogo Oval with financial aid, food, and sanitary items, assisting 1500 people.

Bashir Badu Anasira, Chairman of the UCA told the ICC, ‘when we were hit by the pandemic, we took that as an opportunity for Uganda Cricket to give back to the people who have enabled us to spread the game…its a very very big thing for the Uganda Cricket Association and the entire country.’

A well deserved accolade for a governing body that went above and beyond in a once in a lifetime crisis!

ICC Development Initiative of the Year – Cricket Argentina

Argentina’s region-wide programme (Cricket Argentina)

Argentina has won the coveted Development Initiative of the Year for its efforts growing the game beyond its borders, and across the Americas, edging out fellow nominees Italy, Namibia, Nepal and Vanuatu.

Cricket Argentina’s innovative adaptation to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic shone through. Confronted by lockdowns and restrictions, Cricket Argentina created online coaching, umpiring, and scoring courses in Spanish, aimed at educating people about the game.

Speaking to the ICC, Esteban MacDermott, Cricket Argentina CEO said, ‘when COVID-19 hit Argentina and people had to spend time at home in quarantine as in the rest of the world, we decided that we were going to make the most of that time, and designed courses for those people to be qualified so that when the time came that we were able to back into action, we were as prepared as possible.’

‘We had over 200 people attend the different courses and made it available to over eight countries in the region that speak Spanish. We know that Spanish resources are not that easy to come by, so when we produce something we like to share it,’ he continued.

100% Cricket Female Cricket Initiative of the Year – Cricket Brasil

Cricket Brasil’s women’s contract system broke new ground (supplied)

Rewarding perhaps one of the boldest moves seen in the Associate Women’s game, Brazil’s governing body has taken out the the 100% Cricket Women’s Cricket Initiative category after their national team program became fully professional.

Signing 15 Women’s players on fully-professional contracts, you nger players in the set-up have university tuition tied into the deal.

All of the cricketers in the player pool are required to help with community development programmes, the same programmes that saw them introduced to cricket, with the intention of the players being the next role models for future generations of girls and boys taking up the sport.

“We had a complete blank piece of paper as far as ideas and conceptions of the game,” said Matt Featherstone, Cricket Brasil development director.

“This is not the case in many countries where the game has been played for hundreds of years and comes with many protocols. 

“So it was our job to firstly let the Brazilians give it a bit of their natural flair and most importantly start it as a game for both sexes. It has never been a ‘male’ or ‘female’ sport in Brazil, but always a sport for all. This helps massively as in our cricket programmes we are almost at a 50/50 split between the genders.”

The programme has brought about immediate positive changes to the lifestyle and wellbeing of its players, already leading the way in the region with four of the last five South American titles. Lara Bittencourt, one of the 15 players, heaped praise on the program.

“My diet has changed, my lifestyle has changed and even my social group of friends has changed,” the 18-year-old spinner said.

“This is what I want to do, so I knew that I would have to make plenty of changes, but it’s a great experience and each day that passes I know I have made the right choice.” 

Emerging Cricket extends its congratulations to all global and regional winners of the 2020 ICC Development Awards, after a year of trouble and uncertainty at every turn.

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