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Arresting the Game! No, Encouraging its Growth!

By John L. Aaron
July 11th, 2008
In New York, one does not often associate the Police Department with the game of cricket, unless of course, there is a need for their presence. But this is New York, where innovation, experimentation and unique, all go hand in hand with the City’s diverse community.

Some of the attendees at the meeting.

That’s where the New York City Police Department’s Community Affairs Bureau and one of the City’s best-known and loved Police Commissioners Ray Kelly come into play, no pun intended. This year, following a successful NYPD community soccer program, Commissioner Kelly, who is no stranger to the West Indian and South Asian communities, envisioned the need for an organized cricket tournament featuring 14 to 19 year-old youths, and within the City limits.

Commissioner Kelly’s vision is being enacted through several officers of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau’s Head Office at One Police Plaza, such as Deputy Inspector Amin Kosseim, Sgt. Hodges, and Officers Thompson and Rana. Police officer Adeel Rana is of Pakistani decent, while Officer Jeff Thompson has trait roots to down under, from where Australia sits atop the cricketing world.

The NYPD sponsored Twenty20 tournament comes right on the heels of the just concluded and very successful Public Schools Athletic League’s (PSAL) high school cricket program, which saw Newcomers High School emerge inaugural PSAL champions. In fact, several of the high school players who participated in the PSAL’s tournament have enrolled in the NYPD program, helping to form six teams that would be outfitted with unique designed colored clothing and bearing names such as Panthers, Pak Brighton, Knight Riders, Eagles, West Indians and Cosmos.

Last Wednesday, some seventy players, coaches and other cricket stakeholders showed up at the Punjab restaurant on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, for an acquaintance session with the police officers, USACA’s Executive Secretary John Aaron, USACUA vice president Fitzroy Hayles and several youth cricket coordinators.

The Twenty20 tournament is scheduled to start on July 23 and conclude with the championship match on August 20. All of the matches will be player at the Gateway Cricket ground off Exit 15 of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Matches will be played on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, depending on the final schedule, which would revolve around the City’s summer school academic programs. Some of the teams registered for the tournament already have coaches in place, while local cricket leagues and the Police Department will provide additional coaching staff and managers.

According to P.O. Rana, “We are encouraging the kids to become motivated, and what better way to do that, than through a sport they all feel so passionate about.” The cricket enthusiast added that the response was so overwhelming that the NYPD’s budget for the program is stretched to its maximum. However, the enthusiastic response augurs well for the future funding of the program, as it grows from strength to strength.

Imran and Rizwan Mazhar, 15 and 18 year-old brothers from Brooklyn, via Pakistan, were very excited to be a part of the program. According to Imran who attends Sheepshead Bay High School and already plays for Jinah Cricket Club in the Brooklyn League, “I can’t wait to start playing.” His brother, a 2008 high school graduate plays for Jinah and Punjab Cricket Clubs.

Atiq Baksh, 17, hails from Guyana in South America and is a freshman at Lehman College. The medium-pace bowler and middle-order batsman is studying accounting, having graduated fro Bronx Technical High School. He currently plays for Cosmos Sports Club.

From the broad smiles and dizzying hum in the air at the registration center, it was obvious that the program had already gained legs and was ready to stand tall, as another well-positioned program of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau, where bringing policing to the community, through events such as the Twenty20 cricket program can go a long way towards reducing the City’s crime statistics and elevating the self-esteem and pride of the community’s youths.

For Rabeel Ahmad, 18, a City Tech College freshman and Legal Studies student, it is a dream come through, because he has not played any organized cricket, although he fancies himself as an all-rounder, who may be playing for a team named Travel Treats.

Jazeb Tariq, 15, an all-rounder and Fahad Yousaf, 16, FDR High School and PSAL players, both have more than high school in common. They both “…want their team to win the inaugural NYPD Cricket championship.”

"To learn more about the NYPD Cricket Program, Contact Program Coordinator, Police Officer Jeff Thompson at (646) 610-7849 or"
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