USYCA reveals plans for 2013
Whilst the USACA descends into in-fighting, legal action and the seemingly imminent collapse of the proposed big-money Twenty20 league, the United States Youth Cricket Association is continuing the excellent work it's been doing since its formation almost three years ago.
USYCA President Jamie Harrison recently spoke to CricketEurope about the organisation's plans for 2013. He told us that USYCA has now placed over 1,500 cricket sets in schools across the country and has launched new community youth programs in multiple places.
The organisation is based in Maryland, and the community programs there are now in their second year. This will see the launch of the Maryland Junior Cricket League in June of this year, with five programs from across Maryland sending two teams, separated on skill level, to two divisions of the league.
Organising new community programs and setting up similar leagues elsewhere in the country will be a special focus of USYCA moving forward.
Dealing with community programs is not without challenges though, as Harrison told us: "Of course, this success means that our challenges now extend into the communities, where children are typically forced to play cricket on the dirt of baseball infields, and where teams struggle to find quality equipment for players. To that end, in 2013, USYCA will look for share costs with member youth organizations on pitch-building and will make efforts to get affordable equipment into the hands of youth players."
But Harrison is open to collaborative efforts with any other organisations looking to develop youth cricket in the USA, saying, "As always, USYCA will look for partner with any individual, group or organization that wants to develop youth cricket in America. We will respond dynamically to opportunities to advance the game here, paying no attention whatever to past or current allegiances or political affiliations. We stand ready to work with anyone, no questions asked."
In coming weeks, Harrison will be involved in a program roll out in north-east Pennsylvania with teachers from the North Penn school system, and will be back there in February for a Health and Physical Education symposium at which 150-200 PE teachers are set to attend. With the area being so key in the glory days of US cricket with the Philadelphian cricket team in the late 19th/early 20th century, it is fitting that programs are being launched there. Who knows, maybe the next Bart King will be discovered there?
Also in 2013, USYCA will conduct its first national youth tournament at USYCA Foxfire Field in Kansas, and the schools program will continue, with hundreds more cricket sets ready to be donated.
It is important to remember that this is where the real cricket development takes place. Solid grassroots and youth development programs are what is going to make the USA a market for cricket, not big money leagues. Soccer developed itself in the USA that way, and here's hoping cricket will do the same.