CAPTION: Henry with Netani Ledua Waqavakatoga. Photo: SUPPLIED.
Despite the challenges presented by the Suva weather over the past week, Cricket Fiji’s U19 team have made the most of their opportunity to mix up their training camp schedule ahead of the International Cricket Council (ICC) East-Asia Pacific (EAP) U19 Championships on the Sunshine Coast next month.
The U19 squad have been working with Henry Elder at Fiji’s National Fitness Centre for two months now. It is a unique opportunity for the squad to work with Elder, who has previously worked with athletes from 38 other sports associated with the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC), including Fiji Rugby. Previously he has helped prepare Fiji’s best athletes for Olympic Games, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and South Pacific Games.
Despite the short amount of time Elder has been working with the U19s, he has already noticed significant improvement in their strength and overall abilities. For most of the squad, it is their first time working in the gym, so Elder has focused on the basic fundamentals of strength training, before moving into improving their movement patterns that are specific to cricket.
“We’ve been working a lot more with core strength, working on the muscle attachments, getting them a little bit stronger…” Elder explained. “They’re naturally strong, they’ve got very got athletic builds most of them, but when they comes to the gym…a lot of them have weak cores.”
Besides being a fitness consultant and personal trainer, Elder has a considerable background knowledge in cricket, having completed a cricket qualification several years ago and running clinics for school children. He firmly believes that besides increasing the strength, power, flexibility and overall on-field performance of each individual, the work in the gym can help prevent injuries and potentially prolong players’ careers.
Additionally Elder believes that such cross-training programs are vital for the longevity of the sport in Fiji, both at recreational and elite levels. Not only will a variety in types of training programs increase participant interest in an effort to prevent crossover to other sports, but it will also build up a better-rounded base of elite players vying for national team selection.
“With the current group of kids that we have here I can see that in a couple of years time…they will be at a much better standard then their peers from some 15 years ago, “ Elder said. “Looking at this from a fitness perspective, we can (will) see a lot better performances…skill and other things…that’s always going to come into play too, but…the future seems pretty bright with what’s happening right now.”
The ICC EAP U19 Championships will be held at the Maroochydore Cricket Club on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast from July 1 to 5. The Fiji U19 team will depart for Australia on June 30.