Image Credit: GN Archives

AL AIN Shahzada Saleem, popularly known as Qasim, is a familiar face in the cricketing circles in the UAE. With nearly two decades of experience working as an assistant coach, he is now set to take on the biggest cricketing challenge of his life.

Qasim has been appointed by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to oversee the schools cricket in Al Ain and spot talent particularly with a focus on the Emiratis. Al Ain has a prominent presence of Emirati children who play cricket. The ECB have in the recent past escalated their efforts to promote cricket among the Emiratis after the UAE national team did exceedingly well in the international circuit including the qualification to three World Cups (ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia-New Zealand, Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh and Under-19 World Cup in the UAE).

“It’s a big opportunity for me. I’m thankful to ECB for believing in me and handing me this responsibility,” said Qasim, 35, who began his coaching career in 1999.

Spotting talent

Qasim will be visiting schools in Al Ain and spotting talented kids who would then be moved to the academy for further training.

“Knowing fluent Arabic is a huge plus for me. I can interact with the kids comfortably and make them understand the nuances of the game easily. It’s been just a month since I have taken over this job and we have big plans. Visiting schools will be quite a challenge but I’m sure we will do a great job,” said Qasim, who hails from Pakistan but was born in the UAE.

“I have always been passionate about this game. I played a good level of cricket but soon shifted to coaching early in my career,” said Qasim is now currently in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for the Level-3 coaching course running from October 1 to 6. .

“Level 3 course will be a big addition to my coaching career and will give me further insight about the game,” he added.

Qasim said the high point of his career came when he was appointed the assistant coach for the UAE under-19 team for the World Cup that was held in UAE in 2014. “I was thrilled to be part of the World Cup. Working under Aaqib Javed (UAE Coach) was a great experience. I learnt a lot from him.”