Dubai: Two academics from the American University in the Emirates (AUE) want to use cricket as a case-study to encourage long-term development of top-class sportspersons at grassroots level.

Professor Kamilla Swart and Dr Leonardo Mataruna from the Dubai Academic City-based AUE have initiated plans to tap sporting talent in cricket at grassroots level through various channels that are currently in practice.

In their key roles heading the Masters of Sports Management degree at the College of Business Administration, Prof. Swart and Mataruna have set upon identifying key areas that will ultimately fuel and back the sports development programme of the UAE. “We have been in touch with key personnel from the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) and the initial response from them has been encouraging. One of the disciplines that can certainly thrive here under any circumstances is cricket, and we see this sport can ideally be used as a pilot project as a base for other sports,” Mataruna told Gulf News in a chat.

“Every day we see so many cricket players gather at a spot all over Dubai and play the game. The fact remains that there will be so many talented players who are part of these impromptu matches. The fact also remains that many of them will never be able to use or utilise this talent on any big stage. What we need is a key process of identifying such talent so the sports aspirations of the UAE are fulfilled. The main thing would be to tap this cricket talent in a way that could benefit the country,” the Brazilian added.

As part of their project, the two professors have been interacting with sports bodies and key institutions before laying out a blueprint for the future. “We need to engage, interact, talk and discuss with people who matter. On the bigger stage, we think a project like this ought to be the topmost priority for a top country like the UAE,” Prof. Swart offered.

“Having sports community centres around the country like they do in other parts of the world can be a good option. These centres can act as the cradles to tap talent irrespective of their nationality. We have to make this start, and the sooner this is done the better it will be in aiding the sporting agenda of a sporting country like the UAE,” he added.