Wednesday, June 24, 2020

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-tete with Cricket Brasil

DHCF: For most people Brazil means Football but what they don’t know is that Cricket was introduced in Brazil before Football. Cricket has a rich history in this football obsessed country. Tell us a bit about it.

CB: Cricket in Brazil began in the mid-1800s in Rio de Janeiro, during a period when a portion of the city’s population was British or of British descent. By the early 1860s, a number of cricket clubs were in operation. Beginning in 1860, as part of a much-needed beautification programme for the city, Emperor Dom Pedro II created several new parks, including a large grassed area in front of his daughter Princess Isabel’s house, who is a big figure in our country’s history, and this space eventually became the country’s first proper cricket ground, and hosted cricket, tennis and bowls matches for many years. Princess Isabel and her father were frequent spectators, and often called upon to present trophies to the winners.

From that moment to this century, Cricket has been played in several capitals and a street Cricket game called “Taco” was created. You can easily see taco being played in small cities by children – and most of them will not even know that it is related to Cricket!

Coming to the new era of the game in Brazil, the national Associação Brasileira de Cricket (ABC) was founded in 2001, and Brazil became an affiliate member of the ICC in 2003.

We started grassroots projects for Brazilians in Brasilia and mainly Poços de Caldas in 2011. The projects have been a success and we  have more than 3500 children playing cricket on a weekly basis, and that has led to a U13, U17 male and female teams and a Senior Male and Female teams playing on T20I status since 2018.

DHCF: With Brazil now been granted T20I status and International cricket action on for the national teams, what does it mean for the future?

CB: It is already being a big change. Since 2018 we have invested more on our women’s team and 2020 they were the first team from Brazil to have central contracts.

That is part of the plan on improving the pathway on the female high performance side and taking this team to ICC tournaments.

DHCF: What is the near term international schedule like for the national teams?

CB: For 2020 we had planned a Women’s series in Argentina, for April, South American Championships in September and October (U13, U17 Female and Male, and Seniors Female and Male), and preparation for ICC WC Qualifiers for Women’s.

DHCF: What is the domestic cricket structure like in Brazil?

CB: We have a John Landers Shield, that is done in two legs with our members male teams.

The Ladies National Championship, also played in a combination from two different tournaments and has been having records of participants.

We have Junior League in Poços de Caldas for the local U13 and U17 teams throughout the year.

And we have all local leagues played by the members and their tour, in Poços de Caldas, Brasilia, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro. It is a shame the quarantine, because 2020 was a very busy cricket year for us.

DHCF: How popular is the sport in Brazil? Is it gaining any popularity?

CB: Cricket is getting recognition and increasing popularity. Brazil is a country of 200 million people and we have plenty of potential to make cricket well known. We are working on sustainable pillars to have a good growth.

DHCF: We have learnt that among the developing cricketing nations, Brazil is one of the few where non-expats are picking up the game. Is that true?

CB: We cannot answer about the other developing cricketing nations, but all of our youth and female teams are made of Brazilian only. The senior male team now has the best percentage it ever had of Brazilians playing, and all of them come from the development projects done in the past years. So we are heading to the right direction in getting Brazilian players in the pathway and reaching high performance.

DHCF: What measures are being taken to improve the standard of cricket in Brazil?

CB: I think we developed a structure that allows us to grow in a sustainable way. The establishment of the project was done by taking small steps on a strong and structured foundation:

First, we opted to have good, committed teachers who taught children about the sport in a fun way, increasing interest in participating in the projects.

Second, we chose projects with the profile of students who would embrace cricket and grow along with our group. And year by year we were increasing in number of projects, with consistency and greater curiosity and involvement of the students. We also created our Training Center where project children could access the sport during the week and start interacting with other young players, as well as developing their skills.

And third, we have been valuing students with games, competitions and bringing the students that had a spirit of leadership to our project as instructors in the school itself. We started with a system of monitors within each project,called Black Shirt project, and now we have eleven of these monitors attending Physical Education University, where they will soon become teachers of cricket to increase the number of projects assisted with qualified teachers. This year we have our first qualified teachers from this initiative: Luis Felipe Pinheiro e Renata Dina de Sousa, who received Gray Nicolls equipment and will be representing Brazil and inspiring players in the country.

This video explains the Black Shirt Project from the beginning: 

DHCF: We have heard that ICC and Cricket Australia has been involved in development of cricket in Brazil. Tell us a bit about it.

CB: Yes, we had an exchange program done with support of ICC and Cricket Australia on 2017 and our Media Officer and skipper, Roberta Moretti Avery. Our intention was to see how the projects are structured in Australia and what we could apply it in a developing cricket country in all areas: grassroots, coaching, marketing, administration, tournaments. This is very important to up skill our staff and improve the level of our cricket in Brazil.

We also had two coaches from the Black Shirt program spending time with Cricket Scotland last year and Alexandre Felippe, our U13 coach and Developing Manager, spent time in England to improve his coaching cricket knowledge.  

All of these programs brought us ideas of where and how to improve our pathway. Great experiences.  

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