Success through struggle: Diasqua Little Sai Wan overcome hardships to dominate Hong Kong cricket
The club are hoping to secure their own grounds within the next year and help to boost their youth development programmes
They have limited access to facilities, no place to call home and their best players are almost always poached by bigger clubs – yet Diasqua Little Sai Wan Cricket Club (DLSWCC) dominated the 2016-17 Hong Kong cricket season by claiming six titles and two runners-up places.
And with the club close to obtaining their very own training ground – along with a strong development programme in place – the management is hopeful that Hong Kong’s premier independent club will continue to be a major force in the local cricket scene for years to come.
“This was one of the best seasons we’ve had,” said club chairman Kashif Dar. “This season, the teams have basically outperformed themselves and that is why it has been very successful for us.
“We are one of the largest independent cricket clubs in Hong Kong, but we have no real facilities and do not have the luxuries such as net practice that is available to other clubs , so with all that we have performed really well.
“It all boils down to our strategy of getting our young players through our development programmes over the past two or three years. They have performed well and helped to give all the teams very good results.”
The club’s JKN team were crowned Sunday Elite League Division One champions while the Knights won the Division Two title. The Sarjan side emerged victorious in the Saturday Championship League Division 2.
Their youth teams were also dominant as they won Premier League titles in the U17 (Tigers), U15 (Tigers) and U13 (Lions) categories. The Cheetahs also finished runners-up in the Elite U17 league and the Wasps finished second in the women’s T20 Cup.
Independent sides are those outside of the two main cricket clubs in the city – Kowloon Cricket Club and Hong Kong Cricket Club, both of which have their own grounds, facilities and top coaches.
Little Sai Wan, which has been around for around 50 years and boasts more than 600 members, is hoping to secure a ground of their own at Shek Kip Mei on top of a reservoir.
Kashif says he hopes the venue would be ready by this time next year.
“We started to apply for our own ground almost four years ago with the Lands Department,” he said. “Now there is good news; we have received a draft lease document for the site in Shek Kip Mei.
“We are hoping to have the facility ready within the next 12 months or so and provide a boost for our development programme. Currently, we are suffering a lot in that we don’t have facilities and we must book venues and compete with other users.
“That is probably our biggest struggle, trying to get some sort of cricket to the majority of our members and give them quality coaching.
“However, those struggles have paid off in terms of our performances. We’ve really taken a few steps forward, and having a facility will go a long way to providing members, especially our junior members, with better training and expertise to be able to develop their skills.”
The club have a number of players in the Hong Kong set-up, including national captain Babar Hayat. Hayat, Nadeem Ahmed, Waqas Khan, Ehsan Khan and Shahid Wasif are the DLSWCC players who are contracted with governing body Cricket Hong Kong.
Haroon Arshad Mohammad is part of the National squad but not a contracted player. Hong Kong A squad players from DLSWCC are Mohammad Osama, Harprett Singh, Karandeep Singh and She Yar Saeed.
Top Hong Kong player Nizakat Khan is a former DLSWCC player but has since moved on to Hong Kong Cricket Club.
“Hopefully, when we get our facilities, we can hold on to more players,” said Kashif. “We are still on friendly terms with Nizakat. We gave him a lot of support and opportunities since he was 13 years old up to 19 while playing for Little Sai Wan.
“The way he’s playing now makes us very proud knowing that he came through our structure and is now an integral part of the Hong Kong team.”
Kashif said that the club is relying heavily on sponsors to support their programmes and are happy that DTC Mobile, who sponsored the successful Hong Kong T20 Blitz in March, has decided to back the club.
But Kashif says, despite the commercial expansion, they remain very much a family club.
“Our biggest challenge is to retain players over the years. That’s because of the financial struggles. They get playing and coaching offers form other clubs.
“But we are still able to recover because of our good pool of youngsters and that comes about because of our dedicated coaching staff.
“It’s not only about commercial relations but more about family and personal relations. We call it the family ambition to promote cricket among our members. And they do feel the value of being with the club, most of them are loyal and will continue with us as long as possible.”