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A spontaneous and one-off discussion quickly gathered momentum in December catalyzing youth academies and cricket programs from across USA to come together, exchange ideas and create a tournament plan for representative youth cricket.
Following the conclusion of the NATA Junior Cricket Cup at the end of September in New Jersey, Samant Gopal of EYCA held a call with Venu Palaparthi of the CLNJ Youth Program to discuss the people and processes behind East Coast's youth cricket leagues. The idea of having a fully inclusive and representative national youth cricket calendar emerged from that October 21st call.
Further brainstorming was conducted in one-on-one and group discussions with organizers of successful youth programs including Rajesh Uppalapati (Triangle Cricket League Youth Program), Priya Singh (Missouri Youth Cricket Association) and Kuljit-Singh Nijjar (Dallas Youth Cricket).
These discussions culminated in a wider call at the start of December, which included the aforementioned league organizers as well as representatives from DreamCricket Academy (Kranthi Bayya), CricketZeal Academy (Raghu Barooda), Michigan Cricket Academy (Mike Makin), Tri-County LA (Sid Shah), Indoor Cricket USA (Lalta Persaud) and CricMax Academy (Dipesh Shah). This expanded forum informally came to be called the National Youth Cricket League (NYCL).
In the December 15th call, a resolution was made to expand the forum to include any and all youth cricket organizers in the country, regardless of their size or affiliation.
The group also formulated its goals - to facilitate sharing of best practices, encourage tours and interactions, structure regular competitive tournaments with the widest possible representation and generally work to create more match opportunities for youth cricketers who currently tend to play in islands or in invitational tournaments.
The group is also working on developing a ladder to send top-ranked teams in several age categories to the AAU Olympics in Iowa. Last year's AAU Olympics held in Detroit featured cricket for the first time ever. Even if many youth programs were conspicuous by their absence, the AAU Olympics, which draws over 30,000 athletes from across the country, was appreciated by the participating teams.
The NYCL group deputed Venu Palaparthi of CLNJ-Youth Program to seek the cooperation of the Heartland Cricket League to make sure cricket can continue to be part of the AAU Olympics. Janmajay Tanwar of Heartland offered the league's support and three Iowa cricket grounds in furtherance of this goal. Dallas Youth Cricket League, which has access to seven grounds in a single location, enthusiastically offered to host tournaments which could potentially lead up to the Olympics. Exact dates and other details are expected to be ironed out in subsequent calls.
Rajesh Uppalapati of TCL, who conducted a very successful youth tournament in the Raleigh-Durham area, offered to work with USACA to make sure the tournaments that result from these efforts have the support of the national body. Support will also be sought from all cricket enthusiasts and groups to make sure the tournaments have the greatest chance of success.
The first fully open forum of the NYCL will be held on January 5th and all youth cricket academies or organizers who have a youth team in U11, U13 and U15 age categories are invited to join the call. For dial-in information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.