He who Watches the Watchers


Colin Mohammed
e-mail: colin_mohammed@hotmail.com


"If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual." -Frank Herbert

Why are our Juniors doing so badly? Too often we blame the players and ignore the management problems, hidden behind a wall of fear and silence.

I would like to preamble this story by saying that in our efforts to rescue our beloved game we must comprehend that it is the children who will eventually be the heroes. We should not berate their abilites, simply because it is not their fault as my story will show you. Kids/athletes at 13-15 years of age need to be nurtured, encouraged, guided and not subject to scare mongering, blackmailing, controlling and humiliation.

Let us now put it into perspective, my source is a Canadian who lives in Florida and has an active interest in Cricket. My story is based on his observations between the players and management. He is an avid reader of canadacricket.com and felt that it was necessary to respond to the situations he witnessed at the recently completed U-15 tournament at Disney World and subsequent reaction of Canadian cricketers in Canada.

My source has many concerns and in many ways they reflect the growing number of questions that we in Canada have as well. However, there are some marked incidents that bear the stigma of unprofessionalism and poor planning. Here are some of the concerns that were reiterated to me, based on his observations on interactions between the management and players.

  • The players were not told about the tournament structure and daily programmes.
  • There appeared to be no prior planning of the logistics of the trip. Apparently some boys were left stranded at Orlando International Airport in the middle of the night
  • No food was provided during the first 2 days of the tournament, the boys had to foot their own bill and accompanying parents were forced to open their wallets
  • What was the reason for the $250 levy the players had to pay? Where did this levy go?
  • The management appeared to have little or no training in dealing with children, far less potential athletes. Given that there were incidents of the boys being berated constantly in front of the others, why should an U-15 kid deserve such a humiliating treatment?
  • Transportation to and from the ground and hotel was non-existent on the practice day. As a result Canadian players did not get to practice, while all other teams had good practice sessions. This meant that they went into their first game (which they lost) without having seen the playing field let alone have a practice.
  • The local organizers in Florida were not aware of the dietary requirements of the players. For example, my source tells me, that Hot Dogs were on the menu for dinner on some days (however, kids had to find their own way for dinner on that day). Religious and cultural diets notwithstanding, Hot dogs cannot sustain an athlete after a long day of cricket in Florida sun, heat and humidity.
  • There was no positive reinforcement to the players. Management appeared to be foucssed on other activities and was heard, in precis, saying "They would not be playing cricket for Canada if he was in charge…."
  • Management interfering with coaching efforts; the most startling example is the case of the game against Bermuda started with 10 players. Apparently the 11th player selected was not due in Florida till 3 hours after game start as he was flying in from Toronto. This fact was known to management, in open disregard for the 13 boys ready to play on the ground. The lad flying in from Toronto only played for a few overs, when the game was all but lost. As we all know, Canada experienced the worst defeat of the tournament in this game. Clearly, the game was lost by the manager and not by the players.
  • Has the CCA seen any type of report from the tour?
  • Are they going to "learn" from the tour to improve "management practices" on other tours?

The problems faced by these kids are the result of gross incompetenance and unprofessionalism. Allegations of favouritism, nepotism among the other isms abound! I could go on listing the many farcial situations faced by these boys in their efforts but it would be an exhausting task. Given the scenarios above, all occuring concurrently, how can you expect these lads to perform on the field. It is a surprise that none of them gave up. Perhaps that is a testament to their abilities.

Children growing up need to be handled with a careful combination of discipline, guidance, encouragement and freedom. It was apparent to my source that the management of this team had no prior discussion on codes of conduct during the tour either for him or the team. The values that children learn are from us, and we must be careful to instill in them the codes of conduct becoming of a Cricketer. It was visible to all that the management did not care to teach these values. These are ambassadors to our country and my hope is that these boys will represent Canada at a senior level. Simply, this sort of unprofessionalism and foolhardiness will not do. These boys are the gems of our future and should be treated with certain care and consideration.

I was advised that I should talk to the returned lads to further develop my story. However, there is a nagging fear that if I do this they will not be selected for any further tours. Fear of questioning the status quo in the various cricketing leagues and in the CCA is not acceptable. As adults we must see that our children get every opportunity to excel and not be akin to shoddy treatment at a National level.

The points that needs to be made here are:

  • Let us treat our athletes representing Canada with some dignity and respect;
  • Unless we have "professional" planners, managers, coaches and organizers, and conduct ourselves in a professional manner, let us not point fingers at the players for "lack of performance" on tours
  • We need to entrust our youth to managers and coaches who have the ability to earn respect rather than demand respect from the youth.
  • The two matches that Canada lost in the tournament was not due to lack of talent or ability but mainly due to ignorance, incompetence and lack of respect to the players by the management.

I invite any member of the CCA to refute this article. I am sure canadacricket.com will post their rebuttal.

"Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry."
-Sir Winston Churchill, November 11, 1937


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