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[Source: ACF Media Release]
The American Cricket Federation held its first Face to Face meeting in Orlando, Florida on August 11, 2012. The entire steering committee, representatives of various leagues from across the country, thought leaders, and heads of the various sub-committees attended the meeting in-person as well as via WebEx.
The meeting began with a formal welcome by Khalid Motiwala, CEO of the Orlando based host league – the Florida Cricket Conference (FCC). The league left no stone unturned with the preparations for the meeting. FCC booked rooms, arranged volunteers for airport pick-ups and drop-offs, and organized conference facilities at the Double Tree Hilton in Orlando.
Pic (Right): ACF Constitution sub-committee in session
Official proceedings began with a welcome by Leighton Greenidge, the Convenor of the Steering Committee, who spoke of the organization’s mission and the momentum achieved by ACF in the short time since its inception. He noted that over ten leagues had already sent in expressions of support and another dozen or so leagues and organizations were looking to do so in the weeks ahead. The Washington Metropolitan Cricket Board led by the trail-blazing Avinash Varma, was one of the first leagues to support the ACF initiative.
The tone for the day-long meeting was set by Atul Rai, advisory board member and cricket administrator. Speaking about the meeting’s theme – American Cricket – A Way Forward, Rai reminded the attendees to maintain a laser-like focus on ACF’s mission and values, which he termed as progressive and pro-cricket. Rai said that ‘a lot of pieces needed to fit together.’ However, he said that he was confident that every member would demonstrate a definitive commitment to strengthen and invigorate the process.
John Aaron, advisory board member, thanked FCC and its sponsors – AVIS, Third Eye Vision, Sky Telecom, First Choice Transportation Group, and FCC member clubs for hosting the meeting, which he called one of historic significance and a turning point for cricket in the U.S. – a rebirth that was so badly needed.
“The biggest challenge,” Aaron said, “comes from within, as there may be some non-believers or others who seek to minimize our efforts aimed at self-reliance and success.” However, he urged the ACF to stay true to its goal of eliminating the distance between cricketer and administrator, based on trust, transparency and integrity.
Pic (Right): Attendees of ACF Face to Face meeting in Orlando, FL
The first session in the morning was led by Prof. Gangaram Singh and Stephen Rooke who provided an overview of ACF’s proposed constitution. The constitution would provide the bedrock on which ACF’s pillars of effective governance and democratic structures would be built. Stephen Rooke said that the organization would have built-in checks and balances and the representative structure would be on the lines of a congress and a senate - consistent with modern democratic governance. In addition, the executive would comprise direct representatives of adult leagues, and direct representatives of clubs and players. There would also be a seat at the table for representatives of women’s cricket, youth cricket and non-traditional cricket.
Stephen Rooke answered questions about governance and went on to describe the mechanical and participatory aspects related to the ratification of the constitution.
A session on membership followed the discussion on the constitution. Shahid Ahmed of Michigan Cricket Association spoke of the membership categories. He laid out the philosophy in very simple words – ACF existed for its members and every member must have tangible benefits from associating with ACF.
In the afternoon session, the media and communications sub-committee plan was presented followed by a presentation by Leighton Greenidge regarding the tournament plan.
Pic (Right): ACF Facilities sub-committee in session
The 2012 tournament would be on inter-league lines since the regional structure would take a bit longer to evolve as the membership process played itself out, Greenidge said. The 2012 tournament is expected to be announced shortly.
The second afternoon session focused on youth cricket. Speaking about responsibilities of clubs and leagues as custodians of cricket, Manas Sahu, Massachusetts State Cricket League’s president and convenor of the youth committee, said that ACF would develop a template that each league could adopt and provide resources to implement the plan. Manas also proposed a reward mechanism for leagues that implemented a plan for youth cricket.
Jamie Harrison, who made a special guest pitch on behalf of USYCA, made a strong case for why ACF’s supporters should help promote cricket to schools. He said that USYCA had a number of resources available such as free cricket kits, brochures and training material that ACF members could utilize if they wished to advance cricket in schools across USA.
A presentation on women’s cricket followed in which Durga Das noted about the need for grassroots efforts starting with schools and colleges. Following that, Kamal Azeez spoke about how the ACF community should join hands and create a knowledge-base on constructing and maintaining cricket facilities including loose gravel, concrete, or rolled sub-strata as well as turf, synthetic, matting and coir surfaces.
Avi Gaje, who was nominated to the steering committee, spoke of the growing popularity of hard tennis ball cricket leagues across USA. Gaje was tasked with developing a road map for non-traditional cricket.
In the last session for the day, Jagan Jagannathan, Interim Secretary of the ACF summarized the day’s take-aways and presented a timeline for creating a fully functional entity with active membership by October. Jagannathan also presented a straw man with deliverables for 2013, the first full year of ACF’s existence.