The Board of Control for Cricket in India “BCCI”has announced that all youth cricket tournaments in India will be suspended indefinitely due to rising Covid -19 cases. Compliance with Social-distancing policies, strict Return –to-Play protocols and Covid -19 specific training has undoubtedly changed the way that young people engage in organized sports.
In India, youth cricket is a breeding ground for unearthing talent and is a real opportunity for young and enthusiastic cricketers to showcase their talent and credibility.
India has won 4 ICC UNDER-19 world cups and players such as Yuvraj singh ,Virat Kohli,Ravinder jadeja,Siddharth kaul and Shubman Gill are examples of Under -19 World Cup winners who have gone to represent the National side and have thus satisfied the vision of BCCI to transform young talent into consistent performers.
It is our responsibility as humankind ,Cricket state associations, parents and coaches to motivate and keep the desire burning in youngsters to continue to pursue our great game of cricket during these difficult times. There are vast resources available to assist, from Webinars on sports Psychology, to former and current international cricketer autobiographies, from which one can learn and develop their skill sets. Mental strength and focus is incredibly important to maintain resilience in our youth players who are the future superstars of Indian Cricket and without mental strength, blessings and support from loved ones, it gets tough to succeed.
The impact of Covid-19 has seen a vast upturn in the use of social media platforms, with Coaches, current and former Cricketers using platforms to interact with other players and fans and share their training methods, knowledge, experiences and insights about their day –to-day lives.
We are, after all, all humans and we quite often forget that we have all faced significant difficulties over the past 18 months and can easily relate to some of the challenges that our icons of Indian Cricket are facing during Covid-19.
There has been a growth in the number of cricket Academies (such as Root Academy in the UK and Cricket Mentoring in Australia) who are using social media platforms to interact with interested people and sharing coaching drills and tips. Through Social media we have been blessed with the opportunity to learn from players and coaches in other countries from the comfort of our homes, which may not have been possible 5 years ago.
Covid -19 has had a significant impact on the Under -19 age group at the most pivotal moment of their young careers as it’s a significant stepping-stone into the national side, and therefore the ICC should consider an Under -21 World cup so that youngsters who have lost their opportunity at Under-19 level due to the Pandemic can have second opportunity to play a Youth World Cup.
On a positive note some youth athletes have experienced a rise in demand and a strong desire and hunger to return to sport, stating that their passion for playing the sport they loved had been strengthened through its absence during lockdown.
When youth cricket eventually returns there will be greater one-to –one support, friendship, camaraderie, and most importantly, a sense of belonging, where our future stars can connect with one another in a safe and secure environment.