The American Cricket Federation (ACF) and the United States Youth Cricket Association (USYCA) have formed a partnership aimed at accelerating cricket development among American youth, which the two organizations consider fundamental to the United States becoming a fully developed, cricket-playing nation.
The alliance developed naturally from a common vision of how best to establish cricket as a mainstream sport in an athletic environment as broad and diverse as the USA. Jamie Harrison, President of USYCA, neatly captured the theme resonating with so many American cricketers.
Harrison said, "There are over 50 million children in America between the ages of 5-17, and for years they have been ignored by entrenched cricket interests in this country. We now understand that cricket will never flourish in the USA until home-grown American youth cricketers, utilizing American coaching and infrastructure, create the momentum, volume and fan base necessary to tap the potential of the American sports system.
"Frankly, if we could just keep the children of expatriates involved in cricket, rather than watching them abandon their sport due to a lack of opportunities, the USA would have one of the largest youth player bases in the world. Instead, this untapped resource, plus the vast majority of other American children, has been denied access to our great sport. This cannot continue. This will not continue.
"At this point in American cricket development, a sharp domestic focus is what’s needed, and that’s where USYCA and ACF are uniquely positioned to serve. The revolution starts today.”
The partners note the historically under-developed state of USA youth cricket, dramatically captured by an 2011 ICC Development Program Census of the Americas Region, which reported a ratio of 23:1 adults to youth participating in cricket in the USA, compared to neighboring Canada which boasts a ratio of 4:1, and a 5:1 ratio within the Americas region itself.
Jagan Jagannathan, Executive Secretary of the ACF Steering Committee, added: "From the outset, ACF’s mission has been to unite all USA cricket stakeholders towards a goal of development; a vast network of talented and like-minded cricket enthusiasts interactively supporting and providing a service to cricket’s emergent grassroots constituency.
"Our primary focus is developing and/or supporting initiatives involving youth cricket, college cricket, women’s cricket and softball cricket, which are all the underpinnings of a solid foundation for the national game.
"In comparison to past history, the common approach of both organizations might be likened as the difference between a heavily centralized group trying to write Encyclopedia Britannia for profit, versus all indigenous USA cricket stakeholders compiling Wikipedia for the sheer love of knowledge."
The partnership anticipates a substantial sharing of resources, communications, facilities and volunteer networks. USYCA will lead cricket development in age groups up to 13-Under, while ACF will coordinate the transition to older age groups. A potentially exciting synergy is seen between USYCA’s expansion program to create out-of-school community leagues, with ACF’s softball and tape ball arm that already is extensively established in both indoor and outdoor facilities in communities throughout the USA.
Noting that electoral representation of youth cricket is enshrined within ACF’s Constitution, Jagannathan commented, "We have been so impressed with USYCA’s independent progress in introducing cricket to so many elementary and middle schools throughout the country: over a thousand schools, in over twenty-five states, in just over three years, is already a massive and unprecedented achievement. We look forward to building on that within our community of clubs, leagues and dedicated volunteers and seeing these youngsters develop with a voice in USA cricket."
Harrison observed, "It is refreshing to see unequivocal support of youth cricket by a national body so transparently dedicated to the long-term future of USA cricket. We hope this vision will inspire a new generation of cricketers to cast aside their doubts and believe anew in a bright future for cricket in America."
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