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On September 20, USYCA's Jamie Harrison introduced the organization's Schools Program to Physical Education instructors in Prince George's County, Maryland. During the session the Phys. Ed. teachers were given a fun-filled demonstration of the game at the Kenmoor Elementary School, where the meeting was held.
As the teachers left that evening, each was given a free Gray-Nicolls Lazer cricket set donated by DreamCricket.com for this purpose.
DreamCricket.com's "American Dream of Cricket" program has donated some 50 cricket kits in 2010 and is the official equipment supplier for USYCA Schools Program which delivers free equipment and instruction to the schools and local introductory clinics.
At the beginning of the Monday's session, Jamie Harrison spoke about the history of cricket explaining that cricket was America's first team sport, being played in the American colonies throughout the 1700s - George Washington's troops played cricket at Valley Forge.
Speaking of the present day, Mr. Harrison explained that cricket is the world's second most popular spectator sport, after soccer and that the last Cricket World Cup was televised in over 200 countries to over 2.2 billion television viewers. "Immigration from cricket-playing nations has resurrected the game in America and the new shorter version of the game, 20/20, has popularized it with audiences that are accustomed to sports matches that are completed in a few hours," Mr. Harrison told his audience of Phy. Ed. teachers.
Pic (Right): Cricket kits were donated by DreamCricket.com* in support of the USYCA program.
Prince George County Phys. Ed. teacher Charles Silberman, is the county coordinator for the USYCA Schools Program. In this capacity, Mr. Silberman will stay in close contact with the teachers, helping them to make cricket a regular part of their Phys. Ed. classes; he will also help to organize future clinics and community youth leagues.
The USYCA version of cricket is the perfect Phys. Ed. sport at the elementary school level because:
- It can be played indoors or outside, on a basketball court, asphalt or grass.
- It allows the instructor to observe students both as individual participants and as parts of a team.
- Cricket appeals to all children, not just those who are typically large, strong or fast.
- Cricket rewards patience, technique and intelligence; stature has very little to do with eventual greatness. This encourages all children to participate.
- Cricket prizes good sportsmanship above all else, in contrast to many of the bad role models children are exposed to in other professional sports.
- Health benefits include endurance & stamina, balance & coordination and improved hand-eye coordination
- Social benefits, such as communication skills, cooperation, and new friendships
- Children who may have been unsuccessful at other team sports may find their "inner athlete" as they play cricket
Mr. Harrison demystified the sport by touching on the similarities and differences between cricket and baseball, how runs are scored and outs are made (bowled, caught out, run out only at this stage).
At the elementary level, the version of cricket promoted by USYCA uses soft balls, tossed underhand full-on, so that no protective gear is needed. "I urged the teachers that they should act as bowlers, so that they can adjust their bowling to the batters' skill level and encourage successful batting, as the game is far better when the ball is being put in play," Mr. Harrison told DreamCricket.com.
"They will also have to limit batters' time to accommodate class time restrictions. Having said that, I told them that as instructors, they are free to make whatever modifications they need to; as long as kids are running between wickets, it's cricket," Mr. Harrison added.
After the introductory session, the session moved to the play area outside where the teachers actually played cricket, which is always helpful when trying to teach the game to novices. The teachers were quickly divided into two teams, and within a few minutes, they were playing cricket.
Mr. Harrison provided handy tips and suggestions as common situations arose during the course of play. "The suggestion I made most often was for the teachers, in their role as umpire, to be generous to the batters, especially those that are struggling, in order to encourage the children's love of the game. I repeatedly returned to the idea that they should do everything they can to help the kids to put the ball in play, as the fun doesn't happen until children are enjoying themselves," Mr. Harrison noted.
This group of teachers represents only a portion of the entire school district; additional sessions are already in the works for Phys. Ed. teachers in other schools. Baltimore City Public Schools launch a similar program for their teachers in coming weeks, and Mr. Harrison is addressing the annual convention of the Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance on October 15 in Baltimore. This is the professional body for state Physical Education teachers, and will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase USYCA’s free Schools Program.
If you’d like to see your local school system playing cricket, please contact us at email@example.com, or visit them at usyca.org.
[DreamCricket.com provided the kits free of charge. However, it gratefully acknowledges the subsidized pricing provided to it by Gray-Nicolls' USA distributor Bedessee Sporting Goods in recognition of USYCA's program.]