Transcript of the speech by Ram Varadarajan, Candidate for USACA President
Hello, it is a pleasure to e-meet with you.
I am Ram Varadarajan, candidate for President of USACA.
There can be little doubt that USACA of today is broken. We are
living under the shame of an ICC suspension; our players – adults and
kids – are suffering because they cannot participate in international
events. Watching the under-19 World Cup in Malaysia was a painful reminder of the consequence
There is, however, cause for optimism. The spirit of cricket and the love of the game in America is alive and well.
I have travelled the length and breadth of the country and have seen
the activity at the grass root level – at the club and league level
cricket is alive and well. There is tremendous interest and passion not
only for recreational adult cricket, but also youth cricket and
increasingly women’s cricket.
However, this grass root effort needs to be nourished and supported.
That is USACA’s role. That is where USACA of today has been a failure
and needs urgent and significant fixing.
My candidature is all about finding a way forward. We must leave the
politics of today behind; it has led us to despair and shame. The
American spirit is about being the best at whatever one does. Cricket
should be no exception. I promise to bring the highest quality of
professionalism, inclusion, transparency and innovation to this sport
Let me talk about the team that is joining me in this quest. I will
start with myself. I am a cricket lover; I have always been one since
my childhood. It is the love of this game that has propelled me to seek
this office. I have not held any USACA office before. I
have no baggage to carry, no quarter to pander to. I have been a
dedicated volunteer for the sport in America.
For the past two years, I was chairman of a tournament committee that
helped organize and conduct a US National Youth Tournament for
Under-11, Under-13 and Under-15 kids. These were resounding successes
because I was able to galvanize support from many quarters, including
USACA, and get national participation. Last year, we even webcast the finals live all over the world; 3000 people watched it. My goal then and my dream now is simple: In eight years I want to enable the US to field an Under-19 team that can win the World Cup. I
have demonstrated successful leadership, general management,
professionalism and fund raising abilities throughout my career. My
biography and indeed that of all of the other team members are on this
The rest of the team is also top-shelf. They are cricket enthusiasts
first and foremost. Additionally, they have also demonstrated success
and professionalism in their careers. They come from diverse backgrounds and geographies – John Aaron is from New York City, John Thickett is from Texas, Shahid Tahir is from Michigan, and Manaf Mohamed is from Florida, and me – I am from California. Such an inclusive executive management team has never before been seen at USACA.
My team and I have set out by putting our promises in writing: a cricket lover’s Bill of Rights. You will see it on this website. All our actions will be governed by these promises. They
sound basic, and they are, but these have been absent from USACA for a
long time. We need to restore these immediately. The right to
transparency in all USACA decisions; the right to professional and
innovative governance; the right to full and inclusive participation; the right to full GAAP accounting; the right to active and open communication.
The team and I have also laid out our vision and plans in an Election Manifesto. You
will find innovation woven through all of the activities that we
propose to do. Let me talk about a few of these: Fund raising. This is
of utmost importance. USACA has constantly been broke. A
financially strapped USACA can be nothing more than a well-wisher. We
intend to reform fund raising at USACA. Of course, we will strive to
get the maximum possible support from the ICC, but we should control
our own destiny. Significant fund raising from sponsorships is one way.
My team and I have significant experience with that. We
will also build a platform to promote professional cricket, consistent,
of course, with ICC guidelines, so that will become a revenue source as
well. A little later, I will point out ways that we can get these funds back to the leagues and clubs.USACA will need enormous support in the months to come. So, we need to create numerous posts, maybe as much as 50 posts, to serve specific needs from planning tournaments, community relations, media relations, fund raising, university liaison and so on.
Let me use this opportunity to invite those of you that are
motivated by our campaign and want to join this movement to change and
upgrade USACA, to join us – you will find my e-mail address on this
website – so please volunteer. We need you during the campaign and
afterward as part of the administration. We welcome you on board. In
the coming weeks, we will continue to communicate our vision in
in-person meetings, telephone meetings, e-mails and through the
website. Communication is a cornerstone for good governance. American
cricket lovers need to make informed decisions. This openness and willingness to share and take feedback is unprecedented in USACA history.
It is very sad commentary when I have personally travelled and
visited with more league presidents than all of the current USACA
management combined. Under our tenure, the USACA website will become a vibrant window into all of cricket in America. Communication in USACA today is noticeable only by its absence.I
also want to make a promise to the club and league presidents. USACA is
not here to interfere in your matters. USACA’s role is to help foster
and promote better cricket within and between clubs and leagues. Today, USACA is irrelevant to the leagues. I
understand clearly that the USACA President is a servant of the leagues
and not its boss. I will serve at the pleasure of the league presidents.
Once the funding is in, I intend to disperse that to all the leagues
– to reward good governance and promote youth and women’s cricket.
Infrastructure development and inter-league play is critical. For
instance, if a league builds turf wickets, we could support them with a
significant grant. If they play a match with a league in another
region, they could earn another grant. If the league
adopts 20 schools for youth and women’s cricket, they can get a bonus.
And so on. Little things are also important. The new
USACA will enable every club to get electronic scoring so that we can
have true score cards that track players throughout the country.
Of course, some key appointments are important: national coaches,
selectors, etc. We also need to attract and hire a top class CEO.Let
me also say a word about youth and women’s programs. Women’s programs
need grass roots level building. That’s for sure. It is natural that we
start youth programs within the schools and youth academies. But we
need to go beyond that. Cricket needs to be a recognized sport within
school districts. Cricket is the only sport that does not have an
active patronage with the Universities. There is almost no scholarship
for Cricket in America.
You can go to Cornell on a Lacrosse scholarship – but not cricket. We
need to build the entire chain from schools to universities. We also
need to start an “Inter-University Cup” tournament as an annual event. I know a stadium that would love to host such an event.
Of course, I am talking about the Broward County, Florida cricket ground. A visit to that stadium is therapeutic. It embodies the hope that cricket has a future in America
– with the right support of a national organization. If I were the
USACA president, I would be holding the upcoming General Assembly for
this election at that stadium. I plan to do my best to
help the County utilize the stadium, and make it a commercial success
so that we can build many more stadiums across the USA.
I want to create and share best-practices, provide supporting
documentation to help clubs and leagues secure grounds and stadiums
across the country. In closing, let me remind all of us of the
criticality of the choice that you have to make. We are at a precipice;
but I see a path to the Promised Land – my team and I can lead us there. A
wrong turn will, of course, lead us to abyss. The incumbent team and
several other ex-USACA leaders have had their innings to show their
skill and dedication. The poor results are here for all of us to see.
The time for change is upon us. I call upon all of
you to work with your league presidents and vote for our new team — a
new inning — a team that is representative of all of American cricket,
a team that has demonstrated professionalism and innovation, a team
that is capable of raising cricket to the next level, a team that is
willing to put its promises and plans in writing, and above all, a team
that is motivated to work for you and the love of cricket. Together we
can bring glory to American cricket and preserve for our children and
all American youngsters the joys and life skills that cricket built in
all of us. The last several weeks have been very encouraging.
Our message of a new inning is resonating well across the country. We are delighted and humbled by the outpouring of support. We will continue our work hard to earn your trust and support through the election and beyond. That’s a promise you can bank on.
Thank you again for your time and interest.
February 15th, 2008
past several years have seen a surfeit of organizational issues and
controversies arise at USACA. One of the consequences of the
litigations and ICC suspension has been a loss of confidence. With new
national elections you have the opportunity to elect an experienced
team of brand new faces to lead USACA – a break with the past and a
team you can have confidence in! Many clubs, leagues and regions feel
USACA is irrelevant to them because it has not historically done much,
if anything, for them. We understand this concern and believe we can
transform USACA into a relevant and value-adding national organization
The status quo must change. We as US cricket lovers have decided to
offer some of our skills, dedication, entrepreneurship, and
transparency which are hallmarks of governance in any US institution.
Goals will be set – see our sections called “Our Vision” for USA Cricket and “Election Manifesto.”
As Americans we want to be the best at everything that we do. Cricket
is no exception. We need to invest in improving facilities, attracting
and developing youth and women to the sport and a myriad of other
Please join us is bringing sweeping change to management of cricket
in the US. Let us leave the past behind and work together for a
brighter future for US cricket!