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By Chris Marshall
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Club Development Officer

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Prior to this (cricket) season I was on Cricket related course and got talking to one of the organisers. The subject of my age (57) and return to cricket (after 33 years) cropped up (not surprisingly) and we discussed amongst other things the changes that I have noticed since my return.

I will quickly digress to say that one thing I always felt was wrong in the corporate world was the concept of employee induction: sounded far too much like brain washing (which in many ways it was), with the focus being on reinforcing the “way we do things”, which is obviously necessary, but little to no attention given to what the ‘newbies’ initial impressions were.

I find it hard to think of myself as ‘newbie’ in any shape or form, but the reality is that in many ways I am, so I was pleasantly surprised to be asked my views on how cricket was being developed compared to back in ‘my day’.

In reality it wasn’t really developed in a particularly structured or coordinated way back then: nets were mainly spent with peers with little to no coaching. Even at Staffordshire County level the focus seemed more on how you actually played rather than on coaching so todays set up with the All Stars, Dynamos and Coaching Badges and the resultant Junior Teams are miles ahead of anything we had, and are an absolutely brilliant concept.

The view I expressed at the time, more through a question than an observation, was what was happening to those already in the clubs and those that no longer played? It will take some time for the above initiatives to work their way into the clubs at playing level and based on my business experiences two things are often lacking a) coordination of new initiatives across the existing personnel and b) utilisation of ‘wise heads’.

By way of example I muted a structure throughout all Clubs based on a Club Development Officer. Co-ordinated by a County Level Officer each club could have a CDO. This individual could be a player, or nor, or could never have played before, but they would need to be at least a ECB Level One Coach and have undertaken both Safeguarding and First Aid courses.

Each senior team would have a Development Officer, probably the vice captain as they are traditionally the bridge between the team and ‘management’ and I would suggest removing any potential selection based conflict from the Captain.

This group would identify the players within the club that would be on their Development Pathway, with a probable ‘end point’. This would no doubt be team based i.e. 2s Potential, but the key thing is that you are not only developing individuals with the potential to play 1s and 2s. There is as much merit in developing a club stalwart who will give many years service, and get years of satisfaction, from being a regular in the 3s.

All these individuals would have a personal Development Plan to include not only cricket skills, but awareness of diet, training, the various roles in cricket, what it means to be a’club person’, what a team is all about etc.

I would also allocate these individuals a mentor, which is where previous players and club officials can be involved to ensure previous wisdom, traditions, history and ethos are passed down and retained, but also to ensure that that the development plan focuses on what is best for the individual not the club.

I share this thought with you here and am more than happy to discuss in detail with anyone who would like to.

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