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Desert Cubs Cricket Academy is among the leading cricket academies

teams in the UAE. The academy’s teams have won many top tournaments in

different age groups. Presley Polonnowita- a former Sri Lanka youth

international who played for St. Anne's College Kurunegala and BRC, is

the Head coach and founder.

Here is an interview  with Presley where he talks about the academy's

rise from humble beginnings , their remarkable  progress  during a

short span and his plans for the future.


Can you go back in  history and reminisce about  how you started ?


It was a humble beginning for Desert Cubs Academy at a corner net of

Sharjah Cricket ground with just 10 kids on the 16Th of October 2007.

Since then we are proud to have established ourselves as the

pre-eminent academy of its kind in the UAE. We have also expanded into

other areas of coaching – with Badminton and Swimming added onto our

Curriculum with great success. Plans are afoot to introduce other

popular sports in the near future.


The number of students in your books at present ?


1200 registered students are so far enrolled in the Academy for

Cricket, Badminton and Swimming with around 750-800 active members


The number of coaches you have? – Their qualifications?


We have a team of around 40 dynamic Cricket coaches who are qualified

and equipped with ICC, ACC or the ACB coaching certification. The

majority of these coaches are also trained and certified in first aid

application. In addition we have a team of 5 qualified badminton

coaches and a certified swimming coach.


What are the facilities you offer at the academy?


We have following facilities at the moment 3 Grass grounds with astro,

cement and turf wickets ,Side nets with Astro and cement wickets

,Pavilion at the Sharjah English School, Auditorium facilities to

conduct mental conditioning sessions and video analysis, Gymnasium for

cardio, fitness and strengthening sessions with instructors, Swimming

Pool, Fully equipped badminton training area and courts, Bowling

machines, Slip Boards for fielding drills, High speed and Slow motion

video cameras for analysis,Services of a world renowned sports

psychologist for periodic sessions


The number of training Centers you have at the moment?


Our main center is located at the Sharjah English School along with 2

other centers at the Dubai College in Jumeirah and The Deira

International School in Al Badia, also in Dubai. We will be opening

our 4th center in Dubai in September and discussions are on to select

a suitable venue for our expansion - in Abu Dhabi



Any International representation from the Academy?


We have produced players for the  UAE national side over the  last several years

- for the  Senior and Junior teams. Shadeep Silva ,Suranjith

Dharmasena and Kashif Khan represented the Men's   Senior Team while

Kirk Vedasinghe,Ritik Bagchi,Dhruva Praveen,Waruna Perera,Shiv

Mehra,Kulith Rabel,Renaldi Dias,Aaron Joseph and Nelukshan De Silva

represented the junior squad


Kyna Vedhasinghe,Kaveesha Kumari – (the youngest to represent the

national team at 12 years),Petule Nadar,Esha,Darini  and Shivani

represented the  UAE women's  Team and In addition, I was bestowed

with the honor of being appointed as the UAE “A’ team coach for the

series against Pakistan A and England A in 2011.


Any outstanding achievements which have stood out ?:


Yes, I am proud to say that Siblings Kirk & Kyna Vedasinghe  both

represented the UAE National team and created a historic landmark .

The present UAE under 19 captain – Waruna Perera is a proud product of

the DCCA  who has worked his way to the top from our grass root level

coaching set up. Apart from that 6 members of the UAE Women’s national

team which won a tournament for the very first time in Kuwait in 2014

hail from the DCCA.


Innovations  which have stood out?


Our focus has been to develop our Junior and senior squads through

frequent exposure to matches against visiting school teams from the UK

and elsewhere as well as teams from the ICC academy whilst also

organizing internal matches and tournaments throughout the season . We

also lay a great deal of emphasis on our annual overseas tour where we

participate against strong opposition from those countries. Last year,

Desert Cubs organized a junior schools cricket event in Sri Lanka

involving top Sri Lankan schools, where our boys gained superb

exposure and experience. This year we are undertaking our first ever

tour to Australia and will match our wits once again against quality

opposition. Our Badminton squad also gained a lot of exposure during

the tour to Sri Lanka in 2014 by exposure to quality opponents and we

keep them frequently occupied with training sessions conducted by

visiting coaches and internal tournaments.


What are the main obstacles you face?

There is no dearth of children joining our academy as our training and

coaching methods are well respected but we require the support of the

relevant Cricket councils in the UAE to develop our infrastructure and

training equipment, whilst also looking into the aspect of coach

development. This will enable us to reach out to a wider market of

society and offer our services to develop Cricket in general and also

other sports. Ours is a multi cultural set up with boys and girls from

Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, UK, and South Africa in the mix. We are

also planning a coaching drive to develop junior cricket among the

local Arab community.


What exactly are your aspirations as an academy?

To be the most recognized cricket academy in The UAE in method,

effectiveness, quality and performances. Our mission is to produce

quality Sportsmen and Women who can respond well to the current

challenges of domestic and international Sports. We want to be

identified as an academy which sets the benchmark in creating “legends

of the future”. We would also like to give back to Sri Lankan cricket

by helping our juniors. Towards this end, we have already made plans

to bring down 2 talented youngsters from the schools set up from St

Anne’s College and St Peters College for a meaningful stint at our

Academy in Nov 2015. I have also had initial discussions with The

Great Mahela Jayawardane in April this year on how we could team up to

support junior cricket and these talks are ongoing.


Let us know Innovations that have stood out:


Taking along a Tour squad of 164 to the UK in 2011 whilst 98 kids

participated in practice sessions at LORDS – The home of Cricket. We

organized and conducted a very successful schools cricket tournament

in Sri Lanka in 2014 with the participation of 9 prominent SL schools

and Desert Cubs juniors. Recently partnered with Yorkshire Cricket to

promote their much touted PRO COACH –module to our kids and coaches

from the beginning of the new season in September 2015 .This will also

include player and coach exchange programs between our entities. We

are the first academy in the UAE to start a soft ball coaching program

for young kids from the ages of 5 – 9 .We hold periodic mental

toughness and psychology sessions for our Coaches and students with

the participation and support of a world renowned master of his trade.



Number of International coaches your have flown in for clinics or

coaching camps at the academy?

We have done several clinics with Former Sri Lankan players Rumesh

Rathnayake and Sidath Wettimuny , Fast bowling coaches – Champaka

Ramanayake and Anusha Samaranyake. Apart from that former Pakistan

Internationals Aquib Javed and Mudasser Nazar andAustralian Great –

Rodney Marsh. In addition we did a clinic with New Zealander – Dayle

Hadlee  who is the brother of Sir Richard Hadlee. And also I must

mention that During our tours our kids had the privilege of

interacting with West Indian legend Gordon Greenidge during  the tour

of UK  in 2013 and with former Sri Lankan captain  Arjuna Ranatunge

and players such as  Nuwan Kulasekara & Nuwan Soysa


Conclusion – anything to add?

Yes as mentioned previously, we lay a great deal of emphasis on our

overseas tours in order to provide our wards with exposure to

different conditions and quality opposition. So far we have travelled

to test playing countries such as Sri Lanka (thrice), England (twice)

India and South Africa whilst also touring Malaysia, Oman and Qatar

during our short history of 8 years.


We are  all set to embark on our first ever tour down under  to

Australia in June this year with 4 age group teams  , which will no

doubt be a great learning curve   for our  youngsters .


The Pro Coach tie up with Yorkshire will enhance and further develop

our coaching curriculum and syllabus whilst adding value to our brand.


I must thank my team of Co –Directors – Aaron Vedhasinghe- the

marketing professional, who also doubles up as the head coach of

badminton and Anoj Silva who is our financial expert and a certified

cricket coach for their immense support in helping me develop the

academy to this level, whilst we are indebted to our team of dynamic

in house and visiting coaches and our hard working administration team

for their tremendous input and contribution. Our visiting business

consultant – Nishantha Herath has made a huge difference in our

administration structure and how we approach our management and

business tie ups.


I am excited about the future and what we can do for and in Sri Lanka

to develop Cricket as well as sports in general. There are lots of

plans on the horizon and opportunities are coming up but we are

conscious of making the right choices as we move forward.


Posted on 2015-05-12 13:22:58
Sri Lankan Airlines
Nov 25
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Should Dilshan have continued until Cricket World Cup 2019?

Yes No

“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews


Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.


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