Maryland is the leader in American youth cricket participation, and our girls programming is a large part of that. But it wasn’t always this way.
Just a few years ago, Maryland, like the rest of the country, had very few girls playing junior cricket. Here’s how that changed, and most of the credit goes to Sham Chotoo and the Bowie Boys and Girls Club program.
It all begins with visits to schools around the state, of which we conduct dozens every year. These visits expose many female students to the game for the first time: https://www.mdyouthcricket.org/announcements/23888/ellicott-city-students-excited
It’s critical that these school visits not be one-off events, with no follow up. In Maryland, there are often two opportunities to engage children at the next level. In some communities, there are school teams that participate in the Bowie Elementary School Teams (BEST) League, and the children can join those teams. That competition was started in 2014 by Sham Chotoo in Bowie-area schools, but now stretches across several counties and two states.
There may also be a local youth cricket program that competes in the state junior cricket championship season nearby. If so, the children can be referred out to it. If there’s not, state volunteers will help to create one, growing the base of cricket programs, and more importantly, giving these children a place to learn the game.
At the 11U level, many of the girls who first encountered cricket at school have been very successful in the state championship competition: https://www.mdyouthcricket.org/announcements/10850/lisa-ramjit-takes-myca-s-first-5-wicket
This process, and the resulting growth in female participation, led to the first ever American all-girls cricket match in Bowie in 2016 and then, in 2017, to a girls tournament: https://www.mdyouthcricket.org/announcements/10496/girls-tournament-is-a-huge-success-girls
By the end of 2017 it was obvious that the girls were ready for their own competition, and so last year they were organized by Sham into America’s first girls-only cricket league, which now represents one of five divisions in the Maryland state championship competition: https://www.mdyouthcricket.org/announcements/19327/usa-s-first-girls-only-cricket
In the another step in the evolution of the girls game here, this year, two of our players who have come up through the ranks competed for spots on the US national women’s side: https://www.mdyouthcricket.org/announcements/26543/marylanders-to-compete-for-a
Over one hundred girls now play organized junior cricket in Maryland, and this number grows every year. But the key isn’t geography, or ethnicity, or even money. The key is having dedicated volunteers such as Sham Chotoo and his team at the Bowie Boys and Girls Club. If there are enough people who are determined to make girls cricket happen in an area, and are willing to put in the hard yards – it will happen. But it won’t happen by waiting for help from outside, by sitting around hoping that USA Cricket or the ICC creates a program. At the end of the day, the old saying is still true:
“If it is to be, it is up to me.”
Now, come on America. Let’s do this.