Dafydd Evans’ job is to grow cricket on Auckland’s North Shore, an area where many local schools lack pitches and cricket gear.
The former farmer is a foundation cricket coach, paid by Auckland Cricket to bring the game to school kids and so build up school teams. It’s now to his mission: get cricket back into schools. He believes closer club and school relationships are critical.
Evolving the club-school model
Recognising the pressing need for change, Dafydd wrote to local sports trust Harbour Sport, and convinced them they needed a school programme. North Harbour then recruited Cricket Auckland to help. Dafydd started his paid coaching plan from scratch last year.
The traditional model of club-school contact sees coaches visit schools for one day a year, giving 20 minutes to each class. It was then up to clubs to follow up, but few can afford paid organisers. Now, Dafydd has extended those visits for each school to a day a week for four weeks.
While providing gear and a pitch are challenges, the biggest cost for a school is the release of a teacher for a day to supervise, as rules require, and the consequent need to hire a relieving teacher for the day.
“Rather than providing free cricket courses, I think there’s an opportunity for the likes of New Zealand Cricket to explore funding for relieving teachers.”
Dafydd has formed teams for a Saturday morning competition from his recruits. He organises college tournaments too, stocked from those high schools that he visits after the primary schools.
He says his coaching programme needs to run for a minimum of four-to-five years to enlist the current five-to-twelve year old crop. By then those players will have moved up to colleges and clubs.
Coaching from the ground up
As a coach, he teaches the basics: how to catch a ball, how to hit it and how to throw it without damaging shoulders, elbows and wrists.
He says the technical side of cricket allows bookish kids to perform as well as the sporty ones.
“I’ve had kids who are not sporty but absolutely love it because they can be as good as everyone else. And it’s delightful to see that in their faces.”
*Piece courtesy of Sport New Zealand