Full Name: Derek Anthony Perera
Birth Date: October 13, 1977
Playing Style :
Batting style: Early order batsman
Bowling Style: Right arm offspin
1. Tell us about your first experience with Cricket? What age did you get in contact with Cricket?
My father used to play for a team of ex-pats in and around the Toronto area, so my weekends were spent going to the grounds. I was playing soccer in a youth league and decided that I’d like to try cricket (after starting to enjoy watching my dad’s team play). At age 9 I was enrolled in a summer program at Toronto Cricket Club led by former West Indian player Faoud Bacchus and within the first year I was awarded the “Most Improved Player” award. Shortly after that I began playing league cricket for United Sports Club as an 11 year old and started my training under Mr. Brian Hale.
2. Did you ever think of becoming a Coach? How did you get into Coaching?
I never really thought about coaching while I was playing, but as part of playing contracts in the UK and a scholarship I received in Australia, part of the arrangement was to coach in youth programs, schools or at the club. I really enjoyed and received positive feedback from those who I worked with.
3. Where did you start your Coaching assignments? Run us through your stint with Canada Cricket?
I started coaching as mentioned while I was playing overseas as part of my contracts. I was back in Canada to finish my undergraduate degree at York University (in Kinesiology) in 2003 and randomly one day was approached by one of my high school friends to coach cricket and develop programs at an indoor sports facility that his father had started to build. I never gave it a second thought and took on the role at the sports centre. I started a small academy with around 20 enthusiastic and passionate kids, however sadly the place had to close doors around one year after opening. I was urged by the kids and parents to personally start an indoor training centre (as there were none in the vicinity). Within the space of 3-4 months this became a reality and the Ontario Cricket Academy program was born.
I had been nominated by the ICC in 2004 to be the first Canadian to be certified as a Level 1 coach through the ICC Americas Development Program and the West Indies Cricket Board. This coaching certification and my educational background in Sports Science, helped me to excel in coaching and the development of up to date and effective programs. In fact the late Bob Woolmer had rated me in 2003 at a High Performance Cricket Seminar as an up and coming coach in the country, and as a result I began to gain a positive reputation in the cricketing circles.
In 2004, I was appointed as the national U-23 player/coach for a Cricket Canada initiative to groom talented and prospective youth players in the top league in the country. Soon after that I was appointed as the national Under 15 and 19 coach in different International tournaments. In 2005. I was sent to India for training by the ICC and had the wonderful experience of learning from Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Foundation and was also trained in Video Analysis systems. I was then appointed as the Technical Analyst for Canada in 2005 (in Ireland) when we successfully qualified for the 2007 World Cup .
I did have some differences with the cricket board at around that time and decided that I would rather focus on my academy and build on developing cricket in the local area.
After a gap of almost 9 years of being directly involved with Canadian cricket, I am highly appreciative and grateful that the ICC Americas Development staff have recognized my ability and knowledge as a coach and appointed me as the ICC Americas Combine team Head Coach which took part in the 2016 Nagico Super50 tournament by the West Indies Cricket Board.
4. Are the coaching courses around the world different or similar in their content and styles?
From my experience and understanding coaching courses have been developed through current research and methods reflecting learning styles, development stages and mechanics of skills and acquisition. While some are delivered differently and perhaps more in depth- I know that modules and themes have been learned or leant from other programs. It is my understanding that the West Indies Cricket Board certification was developed from the Cricket South Africa program. Having said that, I feel that coaching certifications are crucial and important, however they do not totally define who you are as a coach.
5. How do you view your influence on youngsters and whose success have you enjoyed the most from Canada Cricket?
I am really proud of being able to inspire and develop players throughout the years and most importantly give kids the opportunity to express themselves through the game and feel pride in achievement.
I think what I am most proud of is the fact that the players who have played international cricket and now professional cricket have started the game with me and been there right through. The most visible and recognized player that started his cricket with me back in 2003 and soon worked his way to playing for Canada (youth and senior teams) and of course famously the Caribbean Premier League and Bangladesh Premier League is Nikhil Dutta. It is a great feeling to know that a boy that you helped shape and mentor for the last 13 years will possibly be playing the Indian Premier League very soon.
Another youngster who also started his cricket as a 10 year old with me and recently captained the Canada Under 19 team in the World Cup (Bangaldesh 2016) is Abraash Khan. He has also been recognized and under the satellite by the Pakistan Cricket Board. It is amazing to see the heights players can reach and a great sense of accomplishment and pride for us all over here. It’s a good feeling that no matter how far these guys go, they don’t forget and always come back for advice on cricket or life in general.
6. Where do you think the Canada Team needs more focus on?
Canada needs more international cricket. We need to be playing more competitive cricket to create more prepared and skilled players. Having said that, we need to be unified as a country and cricket board with a common vision and plan to move to.
We can strengthen our domestic structure, bridge gaps between national youth and senior teams and have players in structured and monitored programs. We have to place an emphasis on youth development, schools programs and closing up gaps there as well.
There is a lot of good stuff going on and a wealth of cricket talent and supporters here, but there is a gap which needs to be addressed. It is always spoken about a “lack of funding” and no government support, but I strongly feel we can be doing more than what we are currently doing- which in turn will, I am certain, increase opportunities for funding and government support.
7. What do you feel is the future of Canada Women's Cricket?
Having been a part of the CIMA Schools Program, introducing cricket to schools in the province of Ontario, we definitely have a growing number of interested and talented female players around. Again, they have been failed by a lack of attention and organization.
I think there needs to be a basic plan developed and in a sense a fresh start, as we’ve seen organized cricket for women completely vanish over the last couple of years.
Again, like all other areas of the game there are significant challenges, but if we only speak about challenges and not try to move forward and make changes then we are not going anywhere.
8. Were there any challenges you faced while coaching the Team? If yes, how did you overcome them?
There are certainly challenges in coaching teams, whether it be at a Junior level where we have to mindful about the player’s age and maturity (in being able to deal and cope with the pressures of rep cricket) or dealing with parents who of course want the best for their kids, but either try to channel frustrations and vent through their kid or directly at coaches.
At higher levels, working with adult age players also has challenges, for instance especially in Canada, finding and creating a balance between cricket and work (or school). As coaches we want the most out of players and want them to be committing as much time to preparation and training, so to find a balance in this regard is a huge challenge.
9. How much progress have you seen in cricket over the years you've been involved in Canada Cricket?
We have qualified for the World Cup in 2003, 2007 and 2011. However, we have struggled since then and now the national team is placed in Division 3 of the World Cricket League. From being one of the top 6 teams in the ICC High Performance Program to battling it out in Division 3 is an eye-opener to say the least.
From a youth level and cricket numbers, I have never, ever seen the amount of cricket that is being played in the country. It is amazing to think of the cricket base that has developed. So it is very concerning that we have at the top level fallen off so dramatically.
10. A mentor / coach whom you would like to dedicate your success?
Definitely my father, who supported me in every way and without his effort and belief, I probably would not have pursued the sport. Mr. Brian Hale my childhood coach who helped me develop into a skillful player. Mr. Peter Fernando who despite my young age made opportunities to play in organized cricket when there was none at the time.
11. Your advice to the youngsters taking up Cricket as a career?
Cricket can be a career, even if you are in Canada. But you have to understand the amount of commitment and effort it takes to develop into a cricketer that other countries and teams would look at and appreciate.
Belief and being single-minded is key. If you do not believe in yourself, it will be hard for others to believe in you. I personally have not seen many players, worldwide, who made it, but were not completely focused on their dreams or goals. You cannot simply go half way and expect outstanding results in anything really.
I also strongly believe that the leagues and franchises around the world will start to pay attention to cricketers everywhere. Since in these leagues there is really no restriction or boundaries created by being a resident or citizen, doors have literally opened up for the world. So in short, there will be way more opportunities for players from Canada and USA to move into these world leagues and make a profession in the sport.
12. What do you wish to achieve in the next 5 years? How do you wish to achieve that goal?
I personally have a lot planned for the next 5 years. Former Mumbai Indians player, South African, Davy Jacobs and Yeragaselvan Kumarasamy from India and myself have joined forces in ONEseven Sports Ventures which we see will be exciting and reaching new heights. We have a lot of exciting things planned for cricket throughout the world.
To achieve any goal it is commitment, belief and work- so basically we’ve spent a lot of sleepless nights, working our butts off!
13. One thing that you would want Global Cricket Community to do?
I would just say keep on doing what you are doing! Perhaps some video interviews and highlights would be excellent- if you are not already doing it.
14. Are there any openings / opportunities at Cricket Canada, and that you would like to inform community members about it.
None that I currently know of.
15. Your views on Global Cricket Community?
I must really commend you for the job you do in highlighting and showing the world about cricket in Associate and Affiliate nations. There are no other sites that I know of that are as committed and diligent as you are in providing the world with cricket stories from “beyond the Test nations”.
Stellar job- keep it up!