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An outstanding 167 nominations were received in the Americas Region for the eight award categories of the Pepsi ICC Development Programme Annual Awards 2010. Not only were the number of nominations notable this year, the quality of the nominations were quite impressive, and a lot of tough competition came from around the region in every category for the selection panel to choose between.
In the end, Bermuda lead the way this year receiving two awards while Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Suriname and the USA each captured one.
"The “Best Junior Participation Initiative” was awarded to USACA for its partnership with the United States of America Youth Cricket Association Schools Program. This program donates cricket sets and provides instructional sessions for students and Physical Education Instructors to schools and school districts across the country. This program has lead to thousands of children that are now being introduced to and learning to play cricket at school in the USA."
"All ICC Americas Development Programme Award winners will now be nominated for the Global Award in their respective category. The ICC judging panel will then select a global winner from the 5 regions in each of the categories. The Global winners will be announced on February 28, 2011."
Pic (Right): Kits awaiting distribution to Prince George's County Schools in Maryland. In all, 75 cricket kits were donated by DreamCricket.com during 2010 in support of the USYCA program.
USYCA President Jamie Harrison passed along the gratitude of the youth association, along with a commitment. "The USYCA is obviously thrilled and delighted to have its Schools Program be so richly honored in its first year," said Harrison. "We wish to pass along our sincere thanks to ICC Americas and our partners at USACA, with whom we anticipate a close working relationship in the coming years. Knowing that the ICC applauds our mission and our results, this recognition will cause us to redouble our efforts to bring cricket to American children everywhere."
Separately, USYCA announced that Michael Young, fielding coach for the Australian national cricket team, and one of the few Americans to be employed at the top levels of international cricket, has announced his enthusiastic support for USYCA. The announcement was made on 14 January in Melbourne, where the Aussies were preparing to take on England in a Twenty20 contest.
Young, a former baseball player and minor league coach in the United States, came to Australia in 1981, leading Queensland to their first-ever Claxton Shield Title, and became the State Director of Coaching for baseball. His success with coaching Australia’s baseball team in the Olympics led him to be named International Baseball Coach of the Year on multiple occasions before he accepted a position with Cricket Australia in 2000.
Hailed by skipper Adam Gilchrist as the “secret weapon” in Australia’s 2003 World Cup win, Young has consistently demonstrated the relationship between fundamental skills in the two sports, which is key if Americans are to be easily drawn toward the playing of cricket. “Baseball is similar to cricket in many ways,” Young said. “What works in one you implement in the other.” In expressing his support for USYCA, Young noted the critical importance of introducing American children to cricket at an early age.
“Children playing any sport are always a fantastic endeavor and the USYCA is doing a terrific job at expanding on that philosophy,” Young said. “The beauty of cricket also is that it can be played by all ages and both genders. It's an international sport which undoubtedly will one day be an Olympic Sport to go along with it's already star status of being one of the most prolific professional sports in the world.”
In the past three months, USYCA has initiated cricket programs in 75 American schools, representing over 15,000 children. Young believes that the USYCA approach has a high probability of success, and wants to see it expanded and adopted throughout the States.
“The long-term viability with all sports, no matter where they're played, is the involvement of the youth,” Young said. “Without a good fundamental base and highly planned and organised junior development, then any sport has a dim future.”
Young also believes that, because of the tremendous potential of the American cricket market, international players, coaches and cricket bodies should rally to the mission of USYCA, as he has.
“It's the USA,” Young said. “Why wouldn't world cricket based sporting bodies want the USA to be strong? It's a no brainer. People can say whatever they want, but truth be known, if you have the USA involved in any sport, that sport’s standing will improve on numerous levels.”
Jamie Harrison, President of USYCA, is grateful to have the endorsement of such a prominent figure in international cricket.
“I’m pleased and honored to have Mike Young stand with USYCA as it brings cricket to American children,” Harrison said. “As the lone American in international cricket, and as someone with a background in baseball, Mike has a unique perspective on the possibilities for our great sport in the United States. The fact that he believes so strongly in what we’re doing is a great encouragement to us, and we look forward to working with him.”
Source - USYCA and ICC Americas / Pictures - DreamCricket.com