"" Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation aims to improve perceptions of the sport throughout the Kingdom at the grassroots level, according to the CEO

Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation aims to improve perceptions of the sport throughout the Kingdom at the grassroots level, according to the CEO

Tariq Ziad Sagga, CEO of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation, has provided an overview of the strategies that helped the Kingdom's developing national team win the inaugural ACC Men's Challenger Cup 2023 in Bangkok last week. He emphasizes the domestic and grassroots-level programs implemented over the past few years.

One of the world's oldest and most well-liked sports, cricket has been a part of numerous civilizations for millennia. The SACF, which was only founded in 2020, is already thriving and has quickly built a cricketing culture throughout the Kingdom by organizing several significant initiatives aimed at introducing the sport to both locals and foreigners.

Tariq Ziad Sagga is optimistic that the Kingdom may adopt a cricketing culture by implementing significant school and community activities.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Sagga stated, "The Saudi Cricket Federation was created (just over) two years ago, and we have ambitions to implement domestic programs for cricket domestically. "For instance, the National Cricket Championship, which began in 2021 with 11 cities and clubs, featured more than 400 teams and Under-16 associations, as well as more than 30,000 participants, is our primary tournament. Participation will surpass 50,000 this year.

The second competition we held featured softball cricket in six cities, and more than 10,000 people participated overall in 2022. The CEO expressed the hope that it will go beyond 15,000 this year.

Community cricket initiatives like Father's Day and Mother's Day are among the other programs.

"National Day and Saudi Arabia's Foundation Day are two occasions for activities. We host social gatherings and have a different program for cricketing nations like Pakistan and India, Sagga remarked.

He continued in major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, and we established the school cricket program at international schools. "We also had workforce programs and talent search initiatives. Many of these activities were held at Dammam's ex-pat camps and worker camps like Amaala. We, therefore, held a good number of local events, and we intend to play in the Saudi League and the school championship later this year.

According to Sagga, these initiatives are also a part of the Saudi Vision 2030's Quality of Life plan, which calls on the SACF to boost physical activity levels by 40% over the following ten years with the help of the Ministry of Sports and the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

He stated, "We are covering most of Saudi Arabia's regions, and this year we will cover all 13 regions.

Sagga stated that the difficulty they are having in spreading the culture of cricket throughout the Kingdom in such a brief amount of time is the belief held by most Saudis that cricket is a dangerous street activity, played in hazardous locations and not organized.

We must first alter this perception, he stated. "Both short- and long-term plans are in place. In the short term, we will concentrate on marketing campaigns, making films, and building a suitable venue to broadcast some of the games and alter some of the locals' impressions of the sport," he said.

"Our (long-term) objectives involve focusing on the grassroots and the kids, teaching cricket to them in schools, and putting fun activities for them in place so that in the future they play cricket at a more professional level."

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