The New York Police Department launched its third season of its NYPD United Cricket Youth League last Saturday (June 12). Flushing's Kissena Park in Queens, New York was the scene of many colorful uniformed teams and several of New York's bravest in blue, as New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly launched the programme which he cherishes and keeps close tabs on, through his Community Affairs Bureau headed by Chief Douglas Zeigler.
The cricket programme has gained worldwide recognition, with Commissioner Kelly featured on a recently released ICC documentary titled 'Cricket in America'. The documentary highlights the NYPD's community outreach programme, aimed at creating an atmosphere of mutual trust. In the documentary Commissioner Kelly talks about his department's outreach effort and his new found admiration for the sport.
This year's NYPD cricket league features 10 teams of players between the ages of 15 and 19-years-old and, although the same number of teams as last year, there has been a 40 percent influx of new players due to the maximum age restriction of the league. The NYPD cricket league, with some 200 players, is managed by a core group of some 12 community affairs police officers headed by Deputy Inspector Amin Kosseim and includes some very dedicated officers. Funded by the Police Foundation, the co-ed programme spares no pains in outfitting the young men and a few young women with coloured uniforms, protective gear, and other playing equipment, as well as ample refreshments.
Sunday's season opener saw all 10 teams participating in two double-headers at the Kissena Park with a supporting police presence from the neighbouring precincts and community affairs personnel. One of the opening matches saw 2009 champions Lycans up against Superstars in a rematch of last season's final. Superstars prevailed on this occasion of the round-robin tournament (Superstars 153-9 off (20 overs beat Lycans 135-6 off 20 overs by 18 runs).
To make the matches even more exciting, the NYPD has established a system of awarding bonus points for milestones reached in each match. The system has sparked added interest and keener competition amongst the teams, as they seek to add to their bonus tally.
The tournament continues to grow, as much as the trophy sizes. Last year the championship trophy measured 48 inches in height, this year it towers at 56 inches. The programme is a collaborative effort between the NYPD and the cricketing community. As the involvement of the players and other local cricket enthusiasts are sought in designing the format, rules and other playing conditions, it's a total team effort.
Cricket in the NYPD ranks has now attracted an NYPD team of its own, as several officers who have previously played the sport have formed a city-wide NYPD Cricket Team and are seeking friendly matches against 'Friendly teams'. One such match is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 18 at Kissena Park when the NYPD XI will come up against an Australian Community XI. The match is being sponsored by the Eight Mile Creek and The Australian restaurants, both located in New York City.
For more information on the NYPD cricket team e-mail: NYPDcricketclub@gmail.com
Results of the NYPD United Cricket Youth programme's opening day matches can be found at http://twitter.com/nypdunited
The full schedule can be seen at the website: http://nypdunitedcricket.blogspot.com/2009/06/2010-cricket-schedule-results.html