Debut day for young cricketers
Malvern College Hong Kong had a successful first day of school on August 27, but some members of the initial intake have been getting a bit of a head start.
They took part in the late July “cricket experience day” at the school’s multi-purpose indoor sports hall at the now-completed campus at Pak Shek Kok near Tai Po.
In doing so, they had a first chance to try out the impressive facilities, while being introduced to the basics of the game under the expert guidance of coaches from Cricket Hong Kong.
During two hour-long sessions, groups of five- to 12-year-olds were taken through a series of rapid-fire drills and mini-games using soft balls. These gave them the feel of batting, bowling, catching and throwing, with the focus throughout on having fun and keeping everyone on the move.
Once term starts, of course, there will be plenty of opportunity to build on these beginnings. The school plans to make cricket one of the sports every pupil should try and is already looking ahead to running age-group teams good enough to play in local or even regional competitions.
This reflects the school’s strongly-held view that sport is an essential part of a good all-round education, not just for exercise and physical development, but for the values and lessons it can teach.
At different times, these include courage and confidence, humility and the determination to improve. But, as importantly, there are also the teamwork, leadership, organisational and social skills which help to make individuals better students and better people.
“Apart from the academic side, we want to give pupils every chance to take part in sports, as well as science, music and the arts,” says Dr Robin Lister, founding headmaster of Malvern College Hong Kong. “We emphasise the need for holistic education and believe that every child has great potential.”
He notes that, in the UK, their sister school’s association with cricket goes back at least 150 years. Therefore, it made obvious sense to introduce it as one of the options here and to enlist the help of Cricket Hong Kong to get things up and running.
“We expect to have proper inter-house competitions and to put out teams against other schools,” Lister says. “But we also want to teach the traditional values that go with cricket such as competing fairly and respecting the rules.”
According to Lucita Lai, development co-ordinator with Cricket Hong Kong, the key with groups of beginners is to give everyone a chance to bat and run and mimic the bowling action.
In drills, the coaches first let kids hit any way they want, but will then step in with a few words on how to hold the bat correctly or swing more smoothly.
“In sessions like this, we keep it fun and make sure there is minimal standing around,” Lai says. “When bowling, we ask them to keep the arm straight and hit the target. Then, as they improve, we introduce other challenges and start to talk about wickets and runs, not ‘points’.”
Lister notes that over the past few months the school has organised other “experience days” focused on rugby, chess and coding, an early indication of the general plan to give a “disproportionate” amount of time to co-curricular activities outside the classroom.
“I firmly believe that academic success on its own is just not enough,” he says. “You also need to develop a child’s other talents plus their personality and character. We are not a factory to turn out grades, but want to turn out well-rounded, secure, confident individuals who will go on to be happy fulfilled and successful members of the community.”
To this end, he mentions that the school has identified 11 specific qualities including resilience, risk taking and ambition mixed with humility, which it expects all pupils to acquire as they move up through the years.
To help in this respect, every child will have not just class teachers, but also an assigned tutor ready to listen and offer appropriate advice and suggestions.
“There will also be assemblies based on these qualities,” Lister says. “And they will be seen in how teachers teach, the way we run a sports team or an orchestra, and how we run the school.”