|By Dr. Gangaram Singh|
The author is a professor at San Diego State University and President of SDCC. Dr. Singh subscribes to cricket legend Bishan Singh Bedi's creed that "cricket builds character."
Often universities initiate scientific, economic, or philosophical innovation. But sometimes our fine institutions can also be at the root of cricketing innovation.
San Diego Cricket Club was initiated just over 12 years ago on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. For sure, it wasn't for science, economics, or philosophy. It was initiated by a bunch of expatriates, looking for some fun. It is this reality that is at the base of most recreational leagues (some would argue almost all) around the country. But what sometimes starts as recreation can grow, and if that growth is not managed properly, then it can result in disenchantment, severe criticism, and lawsuits. Negative vibes, for sure, can suck the fun out of cricket (or anything for a matter of fact)!
San Diego Cricket Club is one of the many clubs in the United States which has experienced rapid growth. From its modest beginnings on the campus of UCSD, it is now a vibrant organization with a very complicated strategy, organizational structure, processes, people, and rewards. Above all, it is administered by a group of volunteers, who have built a community around cricket.
Dr. Singh is working within the community,
to introduce the game to San Diego youth.
Highlights of SDCC include:
Grounds: It was displaced from UCSD (not enough faculty/students) two years ago. An immediate need was to secure grounds. Senior members of the Club engaged local politicians and volunteered their services on the local recreational council to cooperate with baseball, soccer, and football to promote cricket. The City of San Diego has now awarded two grounds for cricket.
Three Teams in SCCA: With this base, SDCC was able to provide the opportunity for 3 teams to compete in Southern California Cricket Association. Based on its seniority, SDCC was offered playing status at the premier facilities at Woodley. SDCC turned down the opportunity simply because it felt that it was important to "spread" cricket.
Growth in popularity of cricket in San Diego: With a large influx of "technology workers," the demand for cricket in San Diego grew significantly. Hungry cricketers roamed around the City on weekends in search of an empty space to play tape ball (later leather ball) on any acceptable surface.
SDCC responded to this demand by sponsoring a "winter league." Cricket in San Diego is now organized around 6-9 teams competing in the winter (and for the first time this year in the summer) in the 20/20 format. SDCC still maintains three teams in SCCA. With close to 150 active cricketers, SDCC is now well positioned to take cricket outside the "expatriate community."
Junior cricket: SDCC collaborated with the YMCA to introduce cricket to a wider/younger cohort. It first conducted a 2-hour cricket clinic. With 32 kids and a few Kanga sets, a whole new generation was introduced to the game. SDCC now runs regular 6-week session, with 16-20 kids per session.
Naturally, the parents of these kids have become interested in cricket. An Over 35 (SD Vintage) team is in the planning phase. The objective of this idea is to motivate parent/child interaction and fitness. It is fun too!
Community outreach: Each year, for the last five years, SDCC was invited by the San Diego Padres (Major League Baseball) to demonstrate cricket at PETCO Park just before a major league game. This year we have kids to demonstrate cricket.
We believe that our success was derived from a vision to promote the game and a set of dedicated volunteers. It was a love for the game and the vision to see it prosper which provided the energy for the volunteers.
A disaggregation of the responsibilities and a centralization of coordination provided the structure to accomplish the strategy. A fair and transparent process on and off the field provided the culture of "giving back to the game."
Rewards (recognition) for those who contribute to the game was at the root of motivation. Together, a clear strategy, structure, processes, people, and rewards resulted in the desired behavior, which fostered a culture of giving back and a code of high performance.
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