Derek Perera and the Ontario Cricket Academy
6 February 2005
I’ve known Derek for quite a few years now. I first met him at Etobicoke’s Centennial Park nets where my friends and I usually ended up to practice before we discovered the local cricket scene. He has always impressed me with being a very dedicated and disciplined individual. Derek’s dedication is quite apparent in his resume, ranging from the IYT to his present duties as player/coach for the CCA under-23’s in the Toronto & District Premier League. With coaching certificates from the ECB, BCCI, WICB and the ICC, he is amply qualified to handle, develop and improve any player and team proficiency level. In addition, his experience playing overseas definitely adds a very sharp edge to his personal skills as well as a valuable tool to use with his students. Comibining strong business acumen with a Degree in Kinesiology and Health Science from York University (Toronto, Ontario) he is well poised to launch the Ontario Cricket Academy into a successful venture.
With this facility, located in Mississauga, Ontario, Derek has taken on a marvelous responsibility to local cricket both at the junior and senior level. As a former student of Mr. Brian Hale, I am very sure that Derek’s priorities are well placed and he has a thorough understanding of good coaching technique.
In Derek’s own words:
“I began playing cricket at age nine. My father used to play cricket on the weekends, and I’d end up tagging along- playing cricket with other kids on the side-lines. He then took me to the Toronto Cricket Club Youth Program, coached by Faoud Bacchus and Farouk Kirmani at the time and soon I was hooked on the game. As I began to show some promise my father enrolled me in the Toronto Cricket Academy coached by Brian Hale. It was with Mr. Hale that I developed the finer points of the game. I finished playing Junior cricket for United CC at age 16, to accept a scholarship from Toronto Cricket Club, where I actually played my first Premier game at age 13.
My experiences of playing overseas particularly in Australia, Sri Lanka and England were invaluable. I felt these trips helped me to gauge what the level really is, outside of Canada, and what it takes to make, and be a world-class performer. In Australia I was exposed to a completely new way of thinking, coaching and playing cricket. I strongly believe that their approach and methods in playing and coaching are the best in the world (and it shows in their standing!) Sri Lanka was a great experience, purely because of the conditions and skill level of the opposition. I was able to play with and against some of the worlds top players- and learn from them. I believe I matured a lot in England as I was given the role of the ‘Pro’- where the team’s success depended heavily on me. This was a great responsibility and character building experience.
Upon my return from England in 2000 I was accepted into York University’s Kinesiology and Health Science Bachelors Program. This is essentially known in other parts of the world as a degree in Sport Science. I loved every bit of this program, and really appreciated the variety in subject offered. Initially I was interested in pursuing this degree, so I could specialize in Physiotherapy later on. The courses in Biomechanics, Exercise Physiology, Sport Psychology, Skilled Performance and Motor Learning (Movement Neurology) definitely swayed me to combine my knowledge with my practical experiences in cricket. Our practical labs in these courses, gave me hands-on learning experiences in Video Analysis for Sport Performance, Fitness Testing and Assessment, as well as Coaching and Sport Instruction amongst others. My secondary interest which I was able to pursue through the Kinesiology programs diverse course selection was Business studies- where I explored courses in Sport Marketing and Event Management, as well as Business Administration.”
Colin: Derek, can you tell me why you decided to use your education and talent to open a cricket specific coaching facility?
Derek: After coaching at the former indoor centre in Mississauga and building a great following and rapport with the parents and students, I felt that I could not leave them “high-and dry” after the facility closed. The parents of many of the students urged me to move ahead and supported me in the process of launching the Ontario Cricket Centre.
The beauty of this centre is that Academy members can spend all the time they require to develop their skills- year round- and have the latest apparatus for skill development at their disposal. I was recently told by Richard Done, the ICC High Performance Manager that my coaching program and features are akin to what is found at many of the Test playing nations Academy’s. This was very encouraging. My educational background and experiences at the academies in Australia and England certainly helped me to offer the best programs possible in Canada.
Colin: How did you benefit from the last HP coaching session with Bob Woolmer?
Derek: Bob Woolmer is a high profile coach who definitely helped me to gain more insight into our game. It is wonderful that coaches of his standard can visit and help to open the eyes of many people in Canada, that there are new methods and ways of coaching.
Colin: What do you offer at your facility, what kind of player skill levels do you find yourself dealing with?
Derek: We offer professional coaching for all levels from beginners (age 5+) to advanced level players (21+). Right now we have training sessions 5 days a week! Mihir Dutta and myself are the full-time coaches at the centre.
Each player and each age level are different in their learning styles, concentration and attention spans- therefore each level is treated accordingly. I believe that through all aspects of my coaching, I try to keep it fun and enjoyable to keep the interest high and learning achievable. For the younger groups there are many modified cricket games they play to assist in skill acquisition. More advanced groups can benefit from the Personalised Fitness Plans, Video Analysis for fault detection, skill improvement and injury prevention and other tools for development. Since the Academy is a year round program students at all ages and levels can really improve.
Another great feature we offer to Academy members is International Youth Tours for younger age groups (Touring USA and England 2005), and International Club/Coaching Player Placement. We will also be hosting International coaches from all over the world, over the next year such as Robin Singh, Dilip Vengsarkar, Chetan Chauhan and Greg Chappell.
Colin: In terms of coaching in Canada, where do you see that process going or evolving to?
Derek: Right now the ICC Americas Development Program is focusing on improving coaching and cricket instruction especially at the ‘grass-roots’ level. In November 2004 I was sent as Canada’s representative to the ICC Americas Regional Coaching Seminar in Mexico- where we were certified as ICC Introduction to Cricket Course Instructors and our WICB Level One.
As an ICC Introduction to Cricket Course Instructor I will be holding a seminar each month to certify teachers, phys-ed instructors, club coaches, parents, volunteers etc. who are involved with cricket at a grassroots and youth level so they can properly instruct cricket sessions and games at their schools, leagues and so on.
I believe that the ICC Americas Development led by Martin Vieira and Grant Dugmore are definitely on the right path with this initiative. I was also informed by the WICB Instructors that they are working with the ICC Americas to hold certifications for higher level coaching, after the Inroduction course.
Colin: What's your biggest success story thus far?
Derek: There have been a couple of Academy students to represent Canada recently at the U-15 level and the Senior Level (Danny Sugrim- U-15 Americas Cup in Cayman Islands and Andrew Chatterpaul- ICC Intercontinental Cup UAE).
I am also very proud that the many of the Ontario Cricket Academy youth players helped out in our Tsunami Relief Drive in December/January. I try to instill in them that we not only try to produce top cricketers, but model citizens!
Colin: What do you see standing in the way of Canada gaining and sustaining ODI status
Derek: All of Canada’s problems stem from a lack of funding. I strongly believe that there are some very talented players throughout Canada, from East to West- however, they need to be full-time cricketers to compete at that level consistently. It is very tough to have weekend league players competing at the highest level. It is also very hard for our committed national players to take leave so often. We definitely have some excellent players that if given the chance to compete regularly at higher levels, can be International match winners.
Other plans to help sustain our standing are grass-roots level programs and national tournaments.
Colin: If you were given carte blanche, how would you set up a National coaches training programme
Derek: We need to start at the bottom with grassroots level coaches, through the ICC Introduction to Cricket Certification. Secondly we need either to import advanced level coaches or certify our own- to instruct Level One (based on the WICB, Cricket Australia, UCB SA, BCCI…modules). Then through participation and coaching experience Level Two’s should be available for serious, higher level coaches. Finally, CCA nomination for Level 3 coaches to be certified in the West Indies perhaps.
We must have all certified coaches in a registry and track activity and progress.
Colin: Since you came through a junior programme, what's your views on how the game evolved since we first competed against each other in the 1992 Ontario Summer Games.
Derek: The Ontario Summer Games was a great time, I’m sure you’d agree. I believe it is tournaments like these that help to keep competition thriving at the junior level. If you can remember tournaments like these were anxiously awaited, and served as a great motivation to improve skills and work harder at our game. Being a Canadian born and raised player, I am excited to see the development of cricket in Canada, especially in the Toronto area (which I can actually comment on). It is great to see the introduction of U-12, U-15 and U-17 programs, whereas when I was growing up there were only a few games in these age groups ‘here and there’. Canada’s participation in the Americas Cup at U-15 & U-19, as well as the U-19 World Cup, are amazing opportunities.
The CCA U-23 Development Program, is a tremendous opportunity for our emerging players, and I am very proud to be part of this!
Colin: Anything else you want to add?
Derek: I would like to take this opportunity to say that the canadacricket.com website is a great connection for cricketers and supporters in Canada, and worldwide. You guys are doing a great job in spreading the word and keeping everyone updated with Canadian cricket!
Thanks Derek, we look forward to writing and interviewing your students in the near future!
If anyone is interested in enrolment to the Ontario Cricket Academy (www.ontariocricket.com) please contact Derek Perera 647-321-7188 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada U-19: IYT Denmark, Holland, England
Canada U-23: Captain National Senior Trials B.C. Canada U-23 MVP
Canada Senior Team: vs. Bangladesh in Toronto, vs. India (Warm-up for Sahara Cup, R/O), ICC Trophy Malaysia 1997
Sri Lanka: Yellowpages National U-23 Tournament & Sara Trophy First Class for Nondescripts CC
Donald King Scholarship for Most Outstanding U-21 Player in Canada: to MCC Lords, England
Represented ICC U-21 Associates XI (85 vs. Kent XI)
Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club Scholarship to Queensland, Australia
Represented Sandgate Redcliffe District in Grade Cricket
Trained under Bennett King at the Queensland Institute of Sport (Gabba)
Professional Player/Coach England (1999,2001) Devon League, North Devon League, East Devon League (Clubs: Bradninch, Tiverton Heathcoat, Witheridge & Cullompton)
1996/1997: Milo “Have-A-Go” Kanga Cricket Development Program in Queensland, Australia
1999, 2001: Player Coach in England (as above) –coached Youth & Senior program
2002, 2003: TCA West- Coach (Beginner – Advanced) in Mississauga
2003- Current: Head Coach- Ontario Cricket Academy, Mississauga
2003 Coach/Player Canada U-23
2003 Coach Ontario U-19
ECB Level One
WICB Level One
BCCI Level Two (in progress)
ICC Introduction to Cricket- Instructor .