OC recently formed a National Youth Development Team (NYDT), which includes a combination of Omanis and expatriates who have been contracted for a period of one year. The pilot project is being headed by former Sri Lankan Test star Duleep Mendis, chief development officer of OC.
The NYDT comprises 25 players in the age group of 18-22 years. Starting this November, the players are being paid monthly salaries after signing a contract. Muscat Daily has a copy of OC's player's contract.
The payment system applies only to the NYDT players and not to Oman's existing senior and junior national squads.
The move to start a professional payment structure comes five months after the ICC promoted OC from Affiliate to Associate member status at its annual congress in Melbourne, Australia.
Mendis told Muscat Daily, “We formed the NYDT with the aim of building a base for the senior national team. OC has allocated an annual budget of RO50,000 for running the NYDT. We have signed one-year contracts with 25 players, which can be renewed upon expiry. Each cricketer is getting paid around RO150 as monthly salary. This is the first time that OC is paying salaries to its players.”
The salaries, however, are performance-linked and are based on factors like attendance, performance and end-of-season assessment.
The NYDT, which features 14 Omanis and 11 expatriates, trains at OC's turf ground in Al Amerat under head coach Ikhtiar Kazmi and his deputy Nilesh Parmar.
“A salary of RO150 is a big thing for a young boy,” said Mendis, pointing out to the incentives given out by OC to attract Omani youngsters to cricket.
“At this age, not too many sports grant so much to a young player here; football apart. In addition to the salaries and contracts, OC also provides full equipment, clothing and refreshments to all the 25 players,” he said.
The NYDT will play matches and undergo outdoor drills during the 'peak season' from October-May, while the off-season would see the players stay busy with mostly indoor training sessions.
OC has thrown the young team into the country's A division league, where it has played three games already - losing twice and winning once.
Mendis believes the exposure to the elite league would 'harden the youngsters and help them mature quickly'. Kazmi, NYDT's head coach, is convinced that despite being a weak side, the youth brigade will come out with plenty of
“These boys have a specific target. They are being trained to make it to the senior national side,” Kazmi said.
“So, they are looking at things in the long run. They know that winning and losing is part of the game. Most importantly, they are discovering how to tackle match situations by playing at the top level in Oman.”
Kazmi pointed out that Sufyan Mehmood, Gayash Dias and several others havealready begun to show promise, while the entire bunch is quickly learning to gel as a team.
OC aims to target 100 schools to tap young Omani talent
Duleep Mendis said the national cricket body is set to build its base of Omani players by tapping talent from the country's schools. To attract Omani schoolchildren to the sport, Mendis chalked out a novel approach - show them plenty of video footage of international cricket tournaments, highlighting the craze associated with the game.
OC is awaiting the nod from the Ministry of Sports Affairs and the Ministry of Education to get started with the schools' programme, which will run alongside the NYDT initiative. “We aim to target 100 schools - either through the introduction of cricket in their school activities or through introductory cricket training at the school premises,” Mendis said.
“We have picked 20 coaches for this project. They will visit the schools and show video footage to the kids, focusing on the crowd involvement and stardom surrounding tournaments like the IPL and the World Cup. “Even if we can tap 20 per cent of the schools and get, say, ten kids from each school, that would give us a big enough pool of players to start with. Those Omanis would then form our main feeder line,” he said