Roughly 150 athletes and their coaches, all aspiring to be members of the Swiss Summer Olympic Team at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, met on Thursday 10th November. The meeting was part of a pre-Olympics team-building session, which took place at the Swiss National Sports Facilities in Magglingen, near Biel.
For four hours the athletes and coaches were grouped into twelve teams of up to fifteen members. The teams competed with one another in several disciplines, some of which were totally foreign to their own sports. One of the main attractions was the cricket session each team attended.
These sessions were run by the Swiss Cricket Association. The SCA had been approached by the Assistant Head Coach of the Swiss Olympic Summer Team, Patrick Buchs, with the idea of organising half-hour cricket introductions with an added competitive element in order to give a special English touch to the day.
Four coaches and four junior players travelled to Magglingen on Thursday for the event in the superb ‘End der Welt’ indoor hall, a huge facility which would, of course, be ideally suited to indoor cricket as it boasts 50m x 50m dimensions with excellent seating for spectators.
After listening to a brief introduction and outline of the game, the groups,were instructed in the art of throwing and then in the far more complicated skill of bowling. Finally, the athletes directed their throwing or bowling at a junior Under 15 batsman, who had the job of defending his wicket. At the same time, aspeed gun recorded the speed of the balls thrown or bowled by the athletes. The higher the speed, the higher the number of points awarded to the team. Ten extra points were added for a ‘wicket’. With the two young batsmen the women athletes clearly had an advantage over their male colleagues and stumps were struck several times!
Whether hurdlers, cyclists, volleyball players, gymnasts, sprinters, rowers, javelin throwers or pole-vaulters, the athletes entered willingly into the atmosphere of the event, showed interest for unknown skills, and competed in excellent spirit. The groups were particularly interested in the speed the ball can be delivered by professional cricketers, the time the batsmen have to react and the amount of protection that is required to prevent injury to the batsmen. During the sessions we had numerous deliveries that were recorded at speeds in excess of 100 kph. The winning recorded speed was 116 kph.
The day was rounded off for the participants with an evening reception and a speech by Swiss Sports Minister Ueli Maurer.
Finally, there were plenty of questions about the development of cricket in Switzerland and what we in Switzerland are doing on an international level. The fact that Switzerland is playing in ICC’s European Division 4 interested many and they wished us luck for the coming years.
The Swiss Cricket Association was delighted to accept the opportunity to help out at this first meeting of the Swiss Olympic Team and wishes them well for next summer in London. We also look forward to further developing cricket in Switzerland, and possible participation at the 2024 Olympic Games when cricket hopefully once more becomes an Olympic sport!
The SCA team comprised the coaches John Millar, Nitesh Gandhi, Patrick Henderson and Stephen Hirst, and the national junior players U15 Callum Hirst, U15 Simon Henderson, U13 Dan Millar and U11 Ollie Millar. Freddie Siegenthaler, an Olympic team tennis coach, was also a welcome member of our team with his speed guns, as was Nicola, a former Swiss National Ladies International football player, who helped ensure the sessions ran smoothly and were completed on time.
The Swiss Cricket Association wish our Swiss Olympians every success next year in London.
The event was also covered by Swiss Television's SF2 and Swiss Cricket's Nitesh Gandhi (Treasurer) & Simon Henderson (2011 U15 Bob Barber award winner) are clearly seen in the TV coverage.