By Gulshan Singh
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. However, it has not been among the major sports in the US. Recently, with more immigrant families from cricket playing countries, it has been gaining popularity.
“Should I have a full-length cricket pitch in my backyard during the pandemi¬¬¬¬c?” an enthusiastic parent of Indian origin asked. Another Sri Lankan parent shared his dilemma of how much time his twin sons should spend on drills and how much on playing a cricket game.
Many other such eager parents in Austin have sought guidance to support their kids playing cricket even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Greater Austin area, many young students have taken up cricket. Alok Singh, Sundeep Chadha, Santosh Pogaru and Amit Shukla have been instrumental in developing this from the ground up.
Alok Singh is also a Youth Coordinator at USA Cricket that governs cricket across the country. He explains the surging interest in playing cricket: “2019 Cricket World Cup had a huge influence. Many cricket loving families watched thrilling matches on the TV during the summer vacation. The kids who had earlier played casually in their backyard or parks now want to develop their skills.”
Alok Singh then collaborated with Hill Country Cricket Association (HCCA) to offer kids suitable cricket infrastructure and coaching setup. His proposal to start a youth club at HCCA immediately found support amongst HCCA club members.
HCCA is a nonprofit organization comprising the largest group of cricket enthusiasts in Central Texas.
Since then, about fifty kids under the HCCA Youth Cricket Academy have shown eagerness to turn-up for the sessions. Their keen interest has led to the efforts to organize cricket events in schools.
The cricket club at Cedar Valley Middle School enrolled about thirty students who played cricket on the school campus regularly before the summer vacation.
“Love that our campus has so many opportunities for our students to get involved,” commented Dr. Zac Oldham, Principal of Cedar Valley Middle School in Round Rock ISD.
Dr. Zac Oldham and Mrs. Katie Benson at Cedar Valley Middle School have greatly supported in launching the first ever official school cricket club in the Greater Austin area.
Patsy Sommer Elementary School organized a “Cricket Festival” to demonstrate how cricket is played to over a thousand students. This school is also considering making cricket part of their regular PE activities.
“The kids had a blast,” commented Coach Kassie Krusely at Patsy Sommer after ‘Cricket Festival’ on the campus.
Many passionate parents have been involved in this journey. Ataullah Baig has commented, “It is an excellent program for youth cricket run by parent volunteers who are passionate and dedicated.”
Peyoosh Jain said, “Great place for young kids to get introduced to cricket. Very encouraging coaches in a low-pressure environment.”
“Certainly, more and more young students will enjoy cricket in the US. We just need to develop the cricket setup in schools across the country and equip PE teachers with basic cricket coaching skills,” says Singh.