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Bahrain, Estonia, Thailand among five nations to get Global ICC Development Awards

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Dubai, June 7 (Ajit Weekly News) The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday announced the six global winners of the ICC Development Awards 2021, highlighting the work done by member nations for the growth of cricket and enabling more people to play the sport in emerging nations.

Following the announcement of the 29 inspirational regional winners from five regions, the six global winners from Bahrain, Estonia, Namibia, Nigeria and Thailand were selected by an independent panel consisting of 12 leaders including ICC Full Member Chief Executives, former international players and ICC Hall of Famers, media representatives and other members of the cricket family.

The global award for the ICC Development Initiative of the Year has been given to Cricket Namibia’s Ashburton Kwata Mini-Cricket Programme for increasing participation by 71 per cent despite the impact of Covid-19. The programme enables cricket to be played anywhere by anyone: on beaches, streets and in car parks, in order to keep communities engaged during the pandemic.

Cricket Namibia president Rudie van Vuuren said, “The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in associated lockdown restrictions for individuals across Namibia, including the closure of schools, which demanded a creative solution to keep the cricket programme running. We took cricket into parking lots, onto quiet streets, beaches, netball courts and unoccupied, open pieces of land.

“We managed to access more than 67,000 children in one-off engagements while more than 17,000 children played regular matches. This initiative has a core focus of connecting communities and improving lives by inspiring the Namibian primary school child.”

Bahrain has been awarded the 100 per cent Female Cricket Initiative of the Year, as the Federation embarked on the task of setting up the country’s first-ever women’s cricket team. The response was huge with almost 200 registrations and the BCF Women’s League was formed in December 2021, with the national women’s team coming as a direct result of the initiative.

Namibia have claimed the global award for ICC Associate Member Men’s Performance of the Year for their victory in the winner-takes-all ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 tie against Ireland. The Eagles chased down 126 for victory thanks to a sensational display of power-hitting from David Wiese and left-arm spin bowling from Bernard Scholtz, guaranteeing them a Super 12 spot at the Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 and an automatic qualification spot in the 2022 edition.

Meanwhile, the outstanding performance of the year by an Associate Member in the women’s game has been awarded to Thailand for their win over Full Member Bangladesh at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier.

Nattaya Boochatham took five wickets to restrict Bangladesh to 176 from their 50 overs and a 90-run opening stand between Sornnarin Tippoch and Natthakan Chantham laid the foundations for a 16-run win.

The victory was a significant step forward for Thai cricket, showcasing their development in the 50-over format in which they have recently received ODI status.

Nigeria have claimed the “Cricket 4 Good Social Impact Initiative of the Year” award for their cricket programmes as a tool for engaging and assisting in the development of internally displaced refugees as a result of violence within the country, while the global award for the ICC Digital Fan Engagement of the Year was won by the Estonian Cricket Association for their wide-ranging digital initiatives aimed at driving fan engagement in the country and beyond.

Among their initiatives, their donation to India’s fight against Covid-19 went viral, using their relationship with Australia legend Brett Lee to spread the word. The multi-platform campaigns resulted in an increase in audiences across all platforms, their YouTube following increased significantly to 52,800 and Instagram to 77,568.

–Ajit Weekly News

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