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FCC leadership with Orange County Florida Sheriff Jerry Demings and his wife Val Demings, former Orlando Police Department Chief at the Festival of Cricket. Photo: Iraj Fatima Photography

Florida Cricket Conference
Newyorkcricket.com’s series of interviews with cricket league administrators in the USA continues here with a set of question posed to Rahul Joshi of Florida Cricket Conference, a league that boasts several outstanding cricketers in the USA.

1. What’s the name of your league and when was it established?  
Florida Cricket Conference (FCC) is a community based grass roots organization in Central Florida. The organization was established in 2010 by professionals and cricket enthusiasts. Florida Cricket Conference is committed to developing the next generation of cricketers through its cricket coaching education and school equipment program, launched in 2013. This coaching program is designed to provide extensive access to coaching through certified trainers and web-based access to continuing education. Our goal is to have the best in class youth development program that will make cricket a viable youth sport in Central Florida.

Family members at one of Florida Cricket Conference game. Photo: Iraj Fatima Photography

2. Tell us a bit more about your league’s leadership and involvement in cricket:
The Florida Cricket Conference leadership committee is comprised of seasoned cricketers who have migrated to the US and are committed to growing the sport in our geographic area; to insure we provide cricketers of all levels an avenue to play the sport we love and are so passionate about!

3. Where in the USA does your league play cricket?
We currently play in Central Florida, along the I-4 Corridor from Tampa through Orlando to Daytona. The Conference also includes teams from the Kissimmee/Poinciana area and other smaller municipalities along the Central Florida Peninsula.

4. How many clubs are there in your league?
We have a total of 14 clubs and growing; and we mainly play 30-overs and 20-overs cricket.

5. How long have you been associated with the league?
All the leaders have been associated with the league since the creation five years ago when we launched the league with a Festival of Cricket.

6. Is your league a member of the American Cricket Federation, and if so, did your league participate in the 2014 ACF American Cricket Champions League (ACCL) tournament?
Yes, we are a member of the ACF, and yes we participated in the 2014 ACF ACCL tournament in the Florida Division.  We won our division and subsequently the National Championship.

7. How do you think your league will do in this season’s ACF Newbery ACCL?
The ACF Newbery ACCL will be another landmark season in 2015 with the all previous 17 leagues returning and the addition of two major Texas leagues, to form the Texas Division.  We feel that all the teams/leagues will make sure they don’t take anything for granted, as last year there were some upsets towards the end of the season, costing teams spots in the National Final in Florida in October!  We feel that teams like the Midwest Bears, Massachusetts Patriots, Southern California Bears, and Midwest Tournament Chargers will be stronger along with the addition of the Texas teams.

FCC team captain Auranzeb Baig receiving the 2014 American Cricket Champions League (ACCL) trophy from West Indies great Alvin Kallicharran, as ACCL commissioner Avinash Varma looks on.

8. Who do you predict will be the biggest stars of your league’s team, this year?
We have some great cricketers in our league and quiet honestly it’s tough to pick the biggest star from our league team.  With players like Timroy Allen, Bhim George, Krunal Bhange, Rahul Desai, Hussain Haider, Robert Cressar, Maksud Indawala, Auranzeb Baig, Oneil Hylton, amongst others, we believe that any of the players could be the biggest star.

9. What are your league’s short, medium and long-term goals?
Our league’s short-term goal is to make sure that our players have a platform to showcase their talents locally and nationally; a medium goal is to work with local counties and private entities to get more cricket fields, and ultimately turf wickets for our players to groom their talent so that they are prepared to potentially play international cricket; a long-term goal would be to have a successful youth league that keeps up the level of cricket we are used to and improve with home grown players, and not rely solely on expatriate cricketers.

10. What do you see as the biggest hurdles-facing cricket in the USA today?
The biggest hurdles facing cricket in the USA today are the personal agenda’s under which some people, whether for power, prominence, or pride.

11. What are the biggest successes of the American Cricket Federation (ACF) and its efforts to help cricket grow in the USA?
Obviously the ACCL and NACC are huge successes to grow cricket but the focus on women’s cricket is superb! We also feel that Jamie Harrison’s USYCA connection and the recent inclusion of Dallas Cricket League and their Dallas Youth Cricket League (DYCL) will see an explosion in youth cricket, and take a huge step forward to engaging more youths to pick up the sport since DYCL already has a youth tournament in place.

Florida All-Stars that represent USA in the North American Cricket Championship.

12. In your opinion, has ACF been successful, where USACA has historically failed?
Yes, the ACF has succeeded at the grass roots level by supporting women’s cricket with the Georgia Women’s tournament every May.  Additionally, the National Domestic cricket league with the ACCL is providing cricketers with a platform to showcase their talents coast to coast. That has never taken place prior to creation of the ACCL, and it shows their success. Along with keeping the spirit of the Auty Cup alive with the North American Cricket Championship between Canada’s top league and the USA’s ACCL champion, is also indicative of ACF’s success!

13.  Where do you see cricket in America five years from now?
Five years from now we see cricket starting to gain the attention of Americans (as a youth sport option) since there is such a huge emphasis on grass roots right now!  With over 300 million Americans and access to disposable income, the sky is the limit!