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History of cricket
Cricket is first recorded as being played in Spain in 1809 by soldiers of General Lord Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). It was during the Peninsular war that the soldiers played the game in and around Ciudad Rodrigo, Lugo and Orense.
The game really started a new era in Spain with the founding of Madrid Cricket Club in 1975. It was made up mostly of British and Indian players, but soon crossed other national lines when West Indians and eventually Spanish members joined.
The first match played between two Spanish cricket clubs took place in 1982 between Barcelona and Madrid, at the Polo Club, to coincide with the opening of the soccer World Cup. There followed a dramatic increase in the number of clubs being formed, three in 1985 and three in 1986. It was also at this time that the Malaga Cricket Association, the forerunner of the Asociacion Española, saw the founding of the National Association (AEC) to co-ordinate cricket throughout Spain.
In 1989, the first national executive committee of the AEC was formed at a meeting in Madrid, and the first steps were taken to unify all of the clubs in Spain. 1990 saw the founding of the second club on Mallorca, and 1992 saw the birth of Marbella CC and Jávea CC, the first club on the Costa Blanca. In the same year the AEC achieved the third of its objectives and became an Affiliate member of the ICC.
1994 saw the inauguration of a new purpose-built cricket ground on Mallorca and the Agrupacion Mallorquina De Cricket was founded. The AEC completed its restructuring and brought in new rules of association and started a centrally run umpires correspondence course. The following year saw a major advance in activity mainly because of an historic three-year sponsorship agreement with Columbus Insurance for the Spanish National League programme.
The first full international tour took place to Italy where matches were played against clubs and the Italian national team, and Spain entertained Portugal in an historic full international match played at Cartama. In the same year a new club was formed at Alfaz del Pi - Sporting Alfas Cricket Club - which played on a golf driving range provided by the Town Hall.
Spain was also honoured to receive its first tour by the MCC, who played matches over a two-and-a-half week period on Mallorca, the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol. During the course of this visit, the opportunity was taken for courses in both umpiring and coaching of the game. During the course of the year, the AEC was recognised by the Spanish government sports body as an official sport, and an historic agreement was reached between Jávea Cricket Club with the local town hall for a joint commitment to teach the youth of Jávea the game of cricket. The town hall committed themselves to the provision of funds and facilities. Finally, the Spanish Umpires and Scorers' Association was formed.
1996 saw Spain accepted as a member of the European Cricket Federation and agreement was reached with the Sun Alliance Insurance Group for the sponsorship of the Spanish Cup competition with the final being held at Alfaz. The first MCC coach was brought over to Spain to give tuition to coaches and players and the chairman of the AEC was appointed as director of finance and sponsorship officer of the European Cricket Federation. A new club was formed at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands while 1996 also saw the first National League and Cup double victories by Jávea Cricket Club.
1997 saw the strengthening of the ties between the Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Group and the AEC by an increased level of sponsorship for the National Cup Competition. Spain also became a founding member of the European Cricket Council and its Chairman, Ken Sainsbury, was elected to the Executive Committee. With the excellent backing of the ECC, ECB and MCC and with the appointment of a European Cricket Development Officer, Spain saw a dramatic advance in the playing of Kwik Cricket amongst schools, particularly on the Costa Blanca, and it was wonderful to see young Spaniards keen to play at last. A new initiative was signed with the Copeland Insurance Group to support the growth of youth cricket within Spain, which assisted clubs and schools to encourage their youngsters.
The new millennium saw Spain organise its first ECC Tournament, the 2000 Indoor competition, in which Spain finished a creditable fourth at its first attempt. In 2001, it competed for the first time in the ECC Trophy and U15 Second Division competitions, and 2002 saw another historic hour arrive in the development of Spanish cricket when the Costa Blanca played host to the inaugural European Cricket Academy. Since then Spain has continued a progressive path forward being well-represented in ICC European tournaments and, in 2007, Spain changed its name from the AEC to CE (Cricket España). Now, flourishing with approximately 30 clubs throughout the country and islands of Spain, the future looks positive for Spanish cricket as it continues towards its goal of achieving Association status.
Spain organised its first European Tournament, the 2000 Indoor, which saw Associates compete for the first time in this competition. Spain finished a creditable fourth in its first attempt.
Spain made its international debut in the ECC Trophy in 2001, finishing in sixth place. It played in the tournament again in 2003, this time finishing seventh. In the equivalent tournament in 2005, the European Affiliates Championship, the Spanish side put in a much-improved performance to finish in third, just missing out on promotion to Division Two of the European Championship.
In 2007, Spain played in the Division Three tournament in Belgium, finishing runners up, just missing out on promotion following a four-run defeat to Croatia in the final.
The Spanish national team currently plays in the ICC Europe Division 3 Championship, coming third out of six in the tournament it hosted in La Manga from 31 August to 5 September 2009.
By far the largest competition is the league that comprises of regional sections. The North, Central and South leagues are joined by the Lanzarote league at the end of the season to play off for the honour of being national champions.
A national Twenty20 tournament also takes place every year. Touring teams are welcomed by several clubs and in recent years, there have been clubs from Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom play matches in Spain.
Development program of Junior and Women's Cricket
With the continuing help from ICC Europe and the other cricketing authorities, there is now a sustained youth development programme in Spain and, although beset by lack of funds and personnel, this should set cricket in Spain on the right track. Spain continues to develop quickly as a cricketing nation and the juniors recently invited Chris Porter of Derbyshire County Cricket Club to oversee the running of the Junior Development programme.
The Cricket Espana schools programme is now in place with all the information going out to schools in the cricketing playing regions of Spain. The programme is designed to assist PE teachers in schools with teaching pupils how to play cricket.
Cricket Espana supply each school who take up the offer with two Kwik Cricket sets, an introductory coaching course, discounted equipment, and the supplying of coaching manuals in Spanish.
Mar Azul International School were the first school to take part in the scheme, with 150 boys and girls being taught cricket in a structured programme at that school. It is hoped that, with sustained interest from these boys and girls, new men's and women's cricket teams will be formed in Spain.
In October 2007, the Madrid Cricket Club partnered with Unicef to organise the first Solidarity Cricket Tournament, held at the Cantarranas sports facility. It teamed up with Unicef Madrid to support its global Unite for Children, Unite against Aids campaign, aimed at combating HIV/Aids among children, with all funds raised from the event being donated to this project.
Invitations were sent out to embassies and consulates in Madrid from cricket-playing countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Bangladesh, urging them to take part in the event and put together a team to play in the tournament. Cricket is very popular in many of the countries that are most affected by childhood Aids, including the West Indies, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The local tie-in between Unicef and Madrid Cricket Club came just months after the ICC signed a landmark agreement with UN agencies to utilise the values of cricket in the global fight against Aids amongst children and youth. For this initiative, Madrid won the ICC Europe Best Spirit of Cricket in Partnership with UNAIDs and UNICEF Award.
In 2009, Madrid went one better and organised a charity event to raise money for the Vincente Ferrer foundation in Anantpur, India. Eight clubs from the Netherlands, Spain and the UK participated and the Lancashire and Indian legend Farokh Engineer was at the event to support the tournament. It was selected as a showcase event as part of the ICC Centenary celebrations.