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Youth Cricket Flourishing In New York City

By Sam Sooppersaud

June 30th, 2009
When was the last time you went to the cricket park to watch a game. If you went lately you would have noticed that there are more youths roaming the cricket field than in the past. No longer we see thirty or forty year olds chugging along behind a cricket ball trying to stop it before reaching the boundary. Instead we see these vibrant and energetic youngsters bursting with enthusiasm on the cricket field.

Newcomers High School.

The first to immigrate here in a family are normally the mother and father. The children are left behind until the parents get through with their rights. While waiting to get through the father may start playing some cricket. This accounts for the older cricket players like we have seen in the past. While the children are still in the old country they started playing cricket at a very young age. So by the time the parents go back home to bring them into the USA they have already learnt to play the game, and their love for the game has already blossomed. So as soon as they reach the USA they naturally want to play cricket.

Several entities are creating the opportunities for these youngsters. The Public School Athletic League (PSAL) for instance, is one such organization. It is the pioneer of high school cricket in the United States. In 2008 the PSAL introduced cricket as a Varsity sport in the high schools. Feelers were sent out to the schools and before you know it thirteen high schools were engaged in the first high school cricket competition in this country. The games started in April of 2008 and by June PSAL crowned its first high school cricket champions, Newcomers High School.

So encouraged with the success of the program in 2008, PSAL did so again in 2009. This time twenty three school participated. Again the games started in April and by June you could have seen the improvements that the youngsters had made on the cricket field. Newcomers High School, with this writer as its cricket coach, was again the PSAL champions.

Many of these young players were drafted into the senior league teams. Most of the older players were only too happy to pass the reins over to these young stalwarts.

The PSAL cricket season may be over, but PSAL is not over with cricket. Mr. Bassett Thompson, PSAL's cricket Commissioner has told this writer that presently he is in conversation with his counterpart in Toronto to schedule an allstar game between New York City high schools and the Toronto high schools. Canada initiated high school cricket over fifteen years ago.

Once the PSAL games were over, the Police Athletic League (PAL) picked up the slack. On Tuesday, June 23rd, the PAL cricket was inaugurated. Youngsters were drawn from all parts of the city. They were registered into teams and with the help of the Community Affairs officers, they began battling in the cricket field. This writer watched three PAL games and admits that they were very exciting games.

Another organization committed to youth cricket is the NY Cricket Coaching School, Inc., ran out of Baisley Park in Queens. This cricket school came into existence in 1994; its first president being coach Sankar Rampersaud. At this time the president is Glynn Hurley, PRO Joe Siewharak, and Rampersaud, the coach. The school has an enrollment of over thirty-five youngsters. Yours truly has agreed to lend a helping hand to this endeavor.

Enrollment is open to all youngsters. Cricket training is done three times a week, Tuesday through Thursday. On Saturdays, if no game is scheduled, then a training session may also be held.

Through close and watchful guidance, the youngsters develop their natural skills. There is no pressure from any of the coaches. Youngsters are allowed to progress at their own pace. In 2005 three youngsters from this cricket school represented the USA in the Under-19 World Cup played in Sri Lanka. They were Akeem Dodson, Andre Kirton, and Kumar Ramsubag. Another youngster Shaan Mehta, is on the verge of making the present USA Under 19 squad.

The school is at present fielding a team in the ongoing PAL cricket competition. On Saturday, June 27th, in conjunction with Ricky Kissoon, PSAL's assistant commissioner, the school is starting a Youth Cricket Tournament. This will be for youngsters 21 years old and under. A cricket match in memory of Romano Shaheed will also be played on this day. This young man, a very talented player was tragically killed in an auto accident.

Backing the efforts of the NY cricket Coaching School are several people working in the background. The school wishes to acknowledge the assistance given by Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lowendowski and Chief of Operations Philip Sparacio. It is hoped that in October of this year work will commence on the rebuilding of Baisley Park, where the cricket school is operating. PSAL cricket commissioner Bassett Thompson is always around to give whatever assistance he is able to render.

With all that is going on with the youths, we should feel encouraged that our cricket will move on to the next level. It is the feeling among many pundits that the growth of our cricket is stagnated. They are so wrong!

With so much cricket being played by the youths, this writer asks the question, "where are the elected officials of USACA, how come they are not at these games?" The youngsters want you gentlemen out there to show you their cricketing skills.

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