The Luxembourg Cricket Federation (LCF) oversees the training and coaching of girls’ and boys’ cricket in Luxembourg.
Current Numbers and Development
Numbers are rising steadily and at present approximately 60 young cricketers are registered, including a growing number of girls. The normal age range is 6 to 16 but we have recently allowed a very small group of 4/5 year old’s to start basic ball skills Most of the kids are British but there are quite a growing number of Indians, as well as a few from traditional nations such as Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. We also have kids of nationalities such as Austrian, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Irish, Bulgarian, Russian and Luxembourgish, amongst others. Across the past ten years it is estimated that over 200 children have benefitted from the programme.
For administrative reasons most of the children are considered members of the Optimists Cricket Club (OCC) as this is the only really active club. Quite a few are registered as members of the Communities Cricket Club (CCC) if a parent works for one of the EU institutions.
During the summer months, April until late September, training takes place on Sundays from 10.15 to 12.30 at Walferdange, whilst from October through to March it is held from 14:00 to 17:30 at a school gym. All sessions include a mixture of skill exercises, games and actual matches played under controlled, safe conditions.
Groups are split by ability level rather than age as the British and Indian kids tend to be more advanced, having had more exposure to the game via TV or having lived in the UK or India previously.
Regular weekly sessions are run by volunteer coaches, usually parents, several of whom have England Cricket Board level 1 or 2 qualifications. Almost all have taken an official basic First Aid course. Quite a few had no previous involvement with cricket until their children started here. Coaching is normally done in English although several coaches speak French. The expat kids who also speak Luxembourgish help translate when necessary.
Teams from varying age groups compete at indoor tournaments each winter. These are hosted by clubs in Basel and Geneva. The tournaments are a key component of the training. In the summer months outdoor matches are held to prepare for an annual international tournament, this year Under 13, hosted by the Optimists Cricket Club, with the national teams from Belgium and Switzerland participating. We also play in age-group leagues run by the Belgium Cricket Federation and have for the past two years travelled to Germany to participate in a tournament with schools from Bonn and Cologne. Now there are sufficient older players again the Cubs team has been recreated. Supervised by an experienced adult player they play each of the teams in the LCF league in the same format, thereby gaining valuably match experience and awareness.
Summer Cricket Academy
An important part of the development plan includes the summer Cricket Academy, which has now been running for 12 years, also held at the OCC. This is a five-day training programme (Tuesday to Saturday) when up to 50 children participate in a wide variety of skills development sessions leading to a final day of matches in front of supporting families. Each year an experienced ECB level 3 qualified professional cricket coach from the UK leads the programme, which has become a significantly important activity. As well as the children our local coaches also benefit by experiencing at first hand different methods and new ideas from this coach.
Coordination and finance
The OCC, together with the CCC and the LCF, has been developing junior cricket in Luxembourg for over 30 years, during which time it has created a stable structure, nurturing young cricketers from age six through the intermediate stages to full adult level. To make this happen both clubs dedicating ongoing funding and resources to the overall process. The programme itself operates all year round, with scheduled training for U9s, U11s, U13s, and U15s, using the excellent pitch and net facilities at the Optimists' Ground in Walferdange and the indoor gym at the International School of Luxembourg.
The ability to develop young players to reach higher levels of cricket is clear. As players gain experience they have their first taste of adult cricket in OCC friendly matches against club touring teams as well as in the local LCF league. Several players from the current Optimists 1st XI squad graduated through the programme and they have since also represented the Luxembourg national team in international competitions.
The steady growth in participation by girls has been notable. More and more girls are playing alongside and against the boys, both at the indoor tournaments and in the Belgian League; Two have played an active role for the national ladies team against the Belgian national team.
While not only benefiting local cricket it has become apparent that children who started their cricketing experience in Luxembourg fit comfortably into the UK environment, playing at representative level for their age groups at school &/or county, as well as at university and local clubs. We expect to see this happen in other countries too.
The development programme has proven to sharpen basic skills, match performance and tactical awareness and additionally teach the young players the correct etiquette and values of cricket.
Communication with parents and friends
A blog keeps parents, friends and anyone interested fully informed, with reports from the various tournaments, matches, events and other news items.
To sign up click on: https://lcfjuniors.wordpress.com/ and follow the instructions.