Cricket coach who broke Arabic language barrier in UAE
Coach Shahzada Saleem with young Emiratis who are being groomed to play cricket in Al Ain. (Photo: ECB)
Shahzada Saleem, who has been appointed by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to spread cricket among the UAE nationals, is on a mission in Al Ain.
After taking over as the development officer and head coach of Al Ain Cricket Club, Saleem, who is popularly known as Qasim, has been travelling to schools and colleges and inviting players to play the game.
Though the popular sports in Al Ain are football and rugby, he has managed to introduce the game in most Arabic schools.
He made his task easier by explaining cricket in Arabic.
“I am well versed in Arabic and introduced cricket through Arabic. The cricket ball in Arabic is called ‘Kora’ and ‘Khasaf’ for bat. I have made over 600 students play cricket in schools. My first task was to ensure they showed an interest in the game and then I taught them the basics. Today many nationals say ‘Hab cricket’. which in Arabic means ‘I love cricket’.”
Saleem set out on his objective only after equipping himself as a qualified coach. He travelled to Nepal and earned his Cricket Australia Level One coach’s certificate. He then flew to Pakistan for his Level Two and recently earned his Level Three in Bangladesh.
Saleem is a Pakistan national but born in the UAE.
He represented the UAE in international matches against Scotland and Ireland as an all-rounder when legendary batsman Mushtaq Mohammad was the UAE national team coach.
“I fell in love with coaching while teaching youngsters at the Sharjah Cricket Academy in 1999. I worked hard picking tips on coaching from renowned coaches. After becoming a qualified coach, I was appointed to teach cricket to youngsters. During the ICC World Cup 2014, I became the assistant coach for the UAE U-19 team and the following year became the assistant coach for the UAE senior national team for the ICC World Cup in 2015 and 2016.”
Saleem enjoys spreading cricket in places where cricket is yet to blossom.
“I was head coach of the Moroccan National Team for two tournaments during 2011 and 2012. I coached in Morocco for six months. I also served as head coach of the Middlesex University in Dubai while being the senior coach of the Sharjah Cricket Academy too. My present mission is most challenging. I started with just two UAE nationals but today I have 65 nationals training under me. Any UAE national who wants to play cricket should come to Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club. We have excellent cricket facilities with astro turf and lush green outfield and the UAE nationals can learn the game free of cost,” said Saleem, who is delighted with the support he has received from Andy Russell, the ECB Development Manager, and ECB’s CEO David East and Mazhar Khan, ECB administrator, in his mission.
Saleem has gained valuable tips from former UAE selector and coach Abdul Razzaq Kazim, international players turned coaches like Aqib Javed, Abid Ali, Paul Collingwood, Paul Frank, Madan Lal, Venkatesh Prasad and Waqar Younis.
“My aim is to get more qualifications as a coach and I will be soon appearing for Level Four and Five courses. Players from South Africa and England too train in Al Ain. I want to prove cricket coaching should not have any boundaries or language barriers,” said Saleem.