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By Venu Palaparthi
USACA announced that it would hold its Annual General Meeting at the JFK Hilton in Jamaica, New York, on December 15, 2012. Included on the agenda are reports from the board and USACA's four remaining regions.
USACA did not respond to an email asking whether the AGM was open to public. However, in an article that appeared on ESPNCricinfo last week, USACA Treasurer John Thickett said: "All USACA members are welcome to attend the AGM. On voting matters, all members in good standing are eligible to vote."
The last AGM held in Dallas (TX) in April 2010, was not only open to public, it was well attended and well organized (pictured right). The event served as a state of the union and USACA set some important goals for itself at that AGM.
To give credit where it is due, USACA achieved two of those goals with the help of New Zealand Cricket and others.
“I am hopeful that real soon we will reward them [Lauderhill stadium] with cricket at the highest level," USACA President Gladstone Dainty said in his address in 2010. USACA kept that promise with the Pearls Cup series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. In 2012, West Indies played two T20s against New Zealand at Lauderhill.
Also at the 2010 AGM, John Thickett and then CEO Don Lockerbie spoke of the progress of the commercial deal, which was imminent. The agreement was eventually signed in December 2010 and has given USACA access to much needed funds. In the aforementioned ESPNcricinfo article, Dainty is quoted as saying: "We get advances against the rights for the professional league, but we should have been getting revenue from them of about $500k per quarter; we've been getting about half of that."
"In booking that revenue the independent auditors are saying: 'You are owed a massive amount of money by an entity which does not have that money right now… we won't recognise that revenue right now but we are convinced you will get it'," Dainty said.
Although these two accomplishments are definitely historic, they might just be the sum total of the list of USACA's accomplishments since the last AGM that was open to the public. On the other hand, the list of unkept promises continues to grow and USACA will do well to introspect.
Here is a refresher on some of the themes from the 2010 AGM that USACA won't be so proud of:
In his 2010 report, Dainty observed that USACA was communicating better, was becoming more purposeful and was moving rapidly in a positive direction and said that this was possible because he was "empowering more stakeholders.” Some two and half years later, nothing could be further from the truth. From a cricketer's perspective, USACA continues to drift listlessly. A majority of the stakeholders have actually been silenced, not empowered as Dainty asserted in 2010. USACA's communications continue to be sporadic and unreliable. More recently, its social media efforts have provided comic relief to cricket writers around the world.
Pic (Right): A screenshot of USACA's website from July 12th advertises an imaginary "U-15 national tournament" starting July 13th at a location to be determined. No such tournament was held.
Despite Dainty's recent proclamation that "In terms of the noise you are hearing this has not affected a single player," the fact is that the lack of progress has affected cricket. Try explaining to a 15-year who has not had a chance to play in a national U-15 tournament in 2012 that he has not really lost any time or opportunity. Try persuading an U-19 cricketer that he has had a chance to display his skills before next year's ICC Americas U-19 tournament, even if no actual tournaments were held in all of 2012.
Another area that was discussed at the Dallas AGM was sources of funding. Former CEO Lockerbie emphasized that a healthy level of internal funding was a factor whenever external funding bodies were approached. What happened since 2010 was that USACA has continued to rely heavily on two baskets for its eggs - grants from the ICC and advances from CHA. For his part, Thickett listed two initiatives - development of individual membership options and a way for members to use credit cards to pay fees. Two years later, these initiatives remain on the drawing board.
Dainty said in 2010 that supplemental resources from USACA would be available for all noteworthy regional initiatives such as a project to build a turf wicket. This idea was pushed further in town hall meetings called by Thickett. One league president called it as he saw it. Following the town hall, then NCCA President Ganesh Sanap told ESPNcricinfo: "It's election-time talk. USACA has never given any money to anyone so why would it give it now?"
Well, he was both right and wrong. Aside from the offer for administrative grants of $2,000 per league to the 15 'compliant' leagues that voted in the 2012 election, which coincidentally were announced ahead of the election, there is no evidence of USACA actually providing supplemental funding to leagues or regions for wide-ranging infrastructure projects that were strategic in nature.
These are just a few of the promises made in 2010 that were broken. There are many more that were made in the months that followed that remain unfulfilled.
Whether USACA uses the December 15 meeting to check off a box on its to-do list or the board actually reflects on plans and progress, only time will tell. Whatever happens, you will read about it on DreamCricket.com.