Emirates and Lancashire Cricket have been looking for the next cricket stars by uncovering new, young talent in the UAE, empowering the next generation for the opportunity to train and play professionally in the UK.
Through the ‘Future Flyers’ programme, Emirates and Lancashire Cricket recently held a coaching session at the Sevens Stadium, during the Club’s 2023 pre-season tour. The aim of the session was to help unlock the full potential of young people who may otherwise not have the opportunity to play at a professional level, and to provide a chance for Lancashire Cricket’s First Team coaches to observe them.
The initiative marks the latest effort by Emirates to support the development of the game of cricket at the grassroots level in the UAE among both Emirati and expat youth. Future Flyers was borne out of unearthing talent in the most surprising places. As part of its partnership with Emirates, Lancashire Cricket visited Dubai Expo 2020 and hosted a masterclass session at the Sports Hub with Lancashire and England players. A group of students were invited to take part in the session and one of those individuals was 16-year-old Mahika Gaur.
The Lancashire Cricket representatives were amazed at Mahika’s natural cricket talent and have since then taken her under their wing with world class-coaching, training and playing while she receives an education at Sedbergh School in the UK. Since that session in 2021, Mahika has played for the UAE women’s team in the Under 19s World Cup and was selected to play for Manchester Originals in The Hundred.
The Future Flyers session welcomed 24 young cricket hopefuls between the ages of 15-17 from several schools in Dubai. Students were selected by their school coaching staff based on their cricket skills and love for the game. The young cricketers participated in coaching sessions with Lancashire Cricket’s First Team coaches, who keenly observed high potential players, while giving them a memorable experience on the pitch. Young cricketers were then treated to watching the T20 doubleheader involving Lancashire’s men’s and women’s teams.
After the coaching sessions, Lancashire Cricket representatives selected the best performing young player, Shelina Laxmidas, who was awarded a trip to Manchester, courtesy of Emirates, as well as the opportunity to train and stay at Emirates Old Trafford, the iconic home of Lancashire Cricket, and be observed and guided by Lancashire Cricket’s First Team coaches to further hone her skills.
During the coaching sessions, the young players also had the chance to learn from Lancashire cricketer Liam Livingstone, who was part of the England squad that lifted the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Livingstone helped them refine their technique and improve their skills. The ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup trophy also made an appearance on the field, and the young cricket enthusiasts got the chance to pose with the iconic trophy.
Emirates has been supporting Lancashire Cricket since 2013, and has naming rights to the Club’s stadium, Emirates Old Trafford, and is the front of shirt sponsor for Lancashire Lightning.
Emirates has been at the centre of the game of cricket for more than 20 years, and is the Official Airline and Global Partner of the International Cricket Council (ICC). The airline has also sponsors the ICC Cricket World Cup, with the upcoming 2023 edition to be held in India. The airline sponsors the event’s match officials selected from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, the Emirates ICC International Panel of Umpires and the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees, which also sees Emirates featured on their official kit. Along with the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Emirates also supports the Women’s T20 World Cups and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.