By Sam Sooppersaud
A couple of years ago, the President of the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA), Mr. Gladstone Dainty, published an article in which he openly said that the only way cricket can become a mainstream sport in America is if we can get the native Americans interested and involved. Mr. Dainty is absolutely correct. Cricket has the potential for tremendous growth in this country, but the game has to be “sold” to the public, not only the migrant community, but parents and kids who know little or nothing about the sport.

With the popularity of Twent20 cricket around the globe, and its record of financial success, cricket is a potential gold mine in the USA. Like any product, it has to be marketed, with the focus being on the native born populace. The cricket fraternity has to, firstly, unite in their efforts to propel the sport forward, and to work unceasingly to get it established on the sporting calendar.

Right now the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) sponsors a High School (Varsity) cricket program, which was inaugurated in 2009. Thirty high schools are presently competing in this tournament. It is the only one of its kind in the entire US. The people at PSAL, namely Lorna Austin, Cricket Coordinator, and Bassett Thompson, Cricket Commissioner, work tirelessly to ensure that this program maintains its high standard, of competition and administration.

In this effort, the Queens United Cricket Academy, (QUCA – pronounced Q-CA) is doing its part. It was started last year with some success. This year the folks behind the program, Tony Hinds and George Samuels are going all out to ensure the growth and the success of this academy. They have enlisted the assistance of experienced cricketers and cricket coaches in the endeavor to mold the youths into competitive cricketers.

Last Saturday, May 2nd, was the first session of the academy. Twenty kids were on hand along with their dads. On hand to guide the youngsters in their workout and cricket training were 10 assistants, guys who themselves are, or have been, good cricketers. Assisting George and Tony were Shadi Khan, Sam Sooppersaud, Wesley King, and several of the dads. Most visible was the enthusiasm of the youngsters. They were sponges, just sucking up the directions of the adults and converting these directions into action, to the best of their abilities.

The QUCA plans to run this program for the entire summer. Parents are encouraged to get their kids involved. Cricket is a “Gentleman’s game,” and from my experience playing this game for over 60 years, cricket brings out the best in its players. It is the only game that I know of where there is a rule, which holds the players to a very high standard of sportsmanship. The Spirit of the Game is imbedded in the minds of all cricket players. So parents, let QUCA help you mold your kids into fine gentlemen.

QUCA is a fully accredited 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt corporation, registered in the State of New York. Provisions have been made for the safety and well being of each child taking part in the program. To get your child involved parents are required to fill out a simple questionnaire, and give assurance that their children would abide by the rules of the academy. There is a $75 fee per child, to partially cover the expenses involved in running the program. (It is hoped that some sponsors would come forward to help underwrite the program). In the meantime Tony and George are “digging deep into their own pockets.”

The program is conducted on Saturday mornings from 9:00 am until 12:00 Noon. Most of last Saturday’s time was spent introducing the kinds to the cricket equipment, and how its worn and used, for their protection and safety. The basic fundamentals of various plays were taught and demonstrated. Kids got the opportunity to display their skill in playing. Delightfully, there were some youngsters there, though not more than 10 years old, who already knew who their favorite players are: Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, MS Dhoni, Mitch Starc. With this type of enthusiasm, you know that the QUCA would produce many stars of tomorrow.

Parents you can contact the QUCA by logging on to [email protected]. Let Tony or George give you up to date information on the QUCA.

See you at Idlewild Cricket Complex in Rosedale, Queens, next Saturday, May 9. Idlewild is located at 147th Avenue & 223rd Street, in Rosedale, Queens, NY.