x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Omer is role Model for cricket at his school

Picked to train at Sussex, the 17 year old captain is keen to pass on his knowledge and form teams for inter-school events.

Omer Mohammed at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, where he was among the first batch who began at the Cricket Academy in 2005.
Omer Mohammed at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, where he was among the first batch who began at the Cricket Academy in 2005.

Omer Mohammed is proving to be a role model among his sporting classmates at his new school.

Cricket was never played at the Model School before Mohammed arrived last year, despite it being the most popular sport among the pupils.

But the 17-year-old Grade 12 pupil changed that, the second time he has formed a school team.

He was previously a pupil at Sunrise where he got the principal's permission to enter an Under 16 team in the inaugural Abu Dhabi interschool tournament in 2009/10.

It was such a success that Sunrise now has three teams entered in the tournament. And he has done the same at The Model School.

Mohammed is the captain and coach, and the batsman all opposition teams dread. Opening the batting, he hit 56 to lead Model to a 60-run win over Indian Islahi School in the opening game of the interschool tournament at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Mohammed was in the first intake at the MCC-Zayed Cricket Academy when it was founded in December 2005. Since then he has been a regular in training, and was selected last year to spend a week training at the Sussex County Cricket Club, England.

"Cricket was the only form of sport I was exposed to in my young days," Mohammed said. "I use to play street cricket, and as I grew up I joined the school team training at Sherwood, where I studied up to Grade 8 before moving to Sunrise.

"And when my father heard the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council was opening an academy, he enrolled me with the first batch of students."

Mohammed has represented the Abu Dhabi academy in the inter-academy tournaments in Sharjah and Dubai, and friendlies against visiting teams from England and South Africa. He also plays for Emirates Cricket Board Blues, the feeder team for the UAE national team.

"My ambitions are to play for the UAE and, perhaps, for India," said Mohammed, who was two when his family moved from Hyderabad. "But until then I want to concentrate on both my studies and the cricket I play for the school, the academy and for the club in India, Vijay Hanuman."

"I enrolled him in the academy because of his love for the sport. I watched him play an in-house match two years later, and that's when I realised this boy had some talent to go a little further," said Mohammed Mateen, his father.

"From that time, in 2007, I took an interest to provide him all what he required, like a full cricketing equipment. He is a much disciplined boy and has balanced his cricket, studies and a religious lifestyle."

At the Abu Dhabi academy, he is now under the tutelage of Yogesh Mistry, a former UAE national team player.

"He has a good future in cricket if he can continue with the hard work," Mistry said. "Batting is his strength. He has perfected some of the shots and executes them well. He is also a strong lad, both physically and mentally."

Mohammed acknowledges he is still learning. And he is ready to pass on whatever he has learnt to his schoolmates in the cricket team.

"Cricket is a team game and you need to have a decent set of players to play at the competitive level," he said.

"So, I try to help build a decent squad. I don't want to be remembered as a coach, even with the members of the Under 14 team. I find it easier and more comfortable to be of help as a friend to those who want to learn and improve."

The facilities for the sport are limited at the school and Mohammed has persuaded some of the young cricketers to join the academy.

"We use the basketball court as the batting strip and the sandy area around it as the outfield," Mohammed said. "It is not the ideal way to train, but when there is interest any open area would suffice for training or to play a game."