With help from the USYCA and Prince Georges County Public Schools, the Bowie Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) has formed the Bowie Elementary School Teams (BEST) Cricket League. This is the first elementary school cricket league in the United States, and establishes a model that can be followed anywhere in the USA.
Over the past few months, the BBGC taught over 800 children how to play cricket during PE sessions at elementary schools in Bowie, Maryland. The following seven schools will be participating in the cricket league’s inaugural tournament this year:
Rockledge Elementary School
Heather Hills Elementary School
Whitehall Elementary School
Yorktown Elementary School
Kenilworth Elementary School
Grace Christian School
St Pius X. School
Cricket practices and matches will be done in the evening during the week: either two practices per week or one practice and one game per week. The tournament will start on 17 March and end on 30 May. At present, cricket coaches are being assigned to each of the seven schools. One or two cricket coaches are still needed for this tournament.
For this historic event, the Washington Post will be covering the BEST Cricket League.
If you are interested in being a cricket coach in the BEST Cricket League and making history with us or need further information, please send an email to:
BBGC Cricket Commissioner
Interview with Sham Chotoo:
Q: Sham, how did this initiative come about?
"The USYCA has been providing free cricket sets to schools in Bowie, and myself and senior WCL Umpire, Ram Ragoo, have been teaching the PE teachers and kids at the school how to play cricket. Over 800 kids in Bowie now know how to play cricket.
"The response from the kids has been fantastic even though the majority of them knew nothing about the game before. The kids at all the schools really enjoyed learning the game. One girl at Heather Hills Elementary School said to me, "If I had a pencil and paper, I would get your autograph!" A 4th grade teacher at Rockledge told me that the kids were wondering if I would be there for PE that day, and when they saw me pass by the classroom, they pulled down their fists and said, "YES!!". The principal and teachers at Heather Hills were amazed to see how the kids were all enjoying the game. They even took pictures of the kids during the cricket matches at PE for the yearbook.
"To keep the momentum of cricket going and knowing that kids love to play sports competitively, I decided to form the Bowie Elementary School Teams Cricket League. To make this happen the BBGC formed a partnership with PG County Public Schools. The principals, PE teachers, PTAs are all on-board with the cricket league."
Q: What are you hoping to achieve, short term and long term?
"I would like to introduce cricket to all the elementary schools in Bowie, then to the middle schools, and then to the high schools. The sport sells itself. With the experience gained in Bowie, I would like to replicate this throughout Maryland, then throughout the US. I want to give parents and kids the option of another sport, and a really great sport it is.
"I firmly believe that cricket is a great sport, and for it to succeed in America, we need to get all the American kids playing the game, especially the kids who don't know anything about the game.
"I would also like to see one of the kids in the Bowie program play hard ball cricket in the Washington Metropolitan Cricket League or in the Washington Cricket League.
"Another long term goal is to get kids from this program make it to the USA National Cricket Team."
Q: Why is this initiative important for youth cricket development?
"At the elementary school level, kids are now learning about the different sports and as they grow older, they will gravitate to the one or two sports they like the most. So the best place to introduce kids to cricket is at elementary school when they are still determining their best sport. Also, their parents will get to know the game and love the game as well. The parents have to be involved in cricket to make it succeed.
"We cannot stop there. We must continue to have cricket at middle schools, high schools, and at colleges. It would be fantastic if colleges started awarding scholarships for cricket."