An Exclusive Interview with Nabeel Ahmed, USACA 1st Vice-President :
Here are some of the excerpts of that interview:
ASD-1. As you briefed that you played cricket in USA for over two decades. Can you share your memories with us?
Nabeel. I am glad that you ask this question. I still remember the early cricket days in Detroit, which were bit difficult for me. Nobody was willing to spare time for cricket because they were not familiar with cricket. So I started to gather people from Asian origin who played cricket in their home country or who had knowledge about cricket. In those days it was almost impossible to find eleven players for a match. In the early days there were no cricket team in Detroit, therefore, I used to pick majority of the players of my team from their homes and used to go on three to four-hour drive to play league matches in Canada.
Similarly, in the early day players were not available to play cricket on weekends because of family commitments. Therefore, I tried to convert the cricket matches into family events were all the players bring their families to watch the match. The families used to enjoy their get to gather and we used to play cricket. This is how cricket flourished in Detroit.
Because of the past efforts, now there are almost 2,000 registered cricket players and about ten cricket grounds in Detroit, and I feel very happy and satisfaction of my achievements.
ASD-2. How your cricket experiences can help you making policies for USACA.
Nabeel. I not only spent my whole life playing cricket but also I am running a league, therefore, I am fully aware of the day to day problems and issues of the payers and the organizing bodies. My experience as player and organizer is an asset for me to provide guideline to the policy decisions of USACA.
ASD-3. Let me ask you about your previous term as the 1st. VP of USACA. I am sure you are not at all happy with. Right?
Nabeel: Yes, because US cricket was affected immensely due to the ICC ban and subsequently funds squeeze by ICC. We had limitations in achieving our long-term goals of placing the USA cricket on the international cricket arena. But despite the ban we at USACA stayed positive and re-organized our priorities and achieved few milestones in USACA history, especially at the youth cricket front. We were engaged in organizing national tournaments at the various levels (Senior, Under-19 and Under-15). Launched programs for kids and their parents, schools cricket in New York City public schools - for boy and girls.
I am a positive person and I always look forward to achieve new breakthroughs for the progress of cricket in USA. Keeping in mind the past difficulties, I have great desire to leap forward in putting the USA cricket on the international arena.
ASD-4. How much does this election win for the same post mean to you?
Nabeel. Well, as I realize that I have been involved with cricket in this part of the world for over two decades. Infect, in the 1980’s, players from Indian Cricket team like Azharuddin, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and Vengsarkar took a stopped-over in Detroit on their return from West Indies and played a game at the Belle Isle ground. In 1980’s legend bowler Wasim Akram also played in Detroit.
I always had this vision that US cricket with a blend of youth and experience players should be placed on the international cricket map. We need to adopt a more assertive role in cricket and ensure the game is left in good shape for future generations. After regaining my post of first Vice President of USACA, it has given me the opportunity to administer my future plans. As in the last few years I have done extensive effect in regrouping cricket network across the country as well as our neighboring cricket playing nations. So it is a great opportunity and I am thankful to all those who backed me. I am sure that in the coming years, US will become a major cricket playing nations.
ASD-5. How your personal affiliation with international cricket players can help USACA.
Nabeel. My eyes are on the future of USA cricket. I feel that USACA can gain lot by inviting International payers to coach USA cricket youth. To improve our player’s skill I can invite cricket legends like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younus, Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed from Pakistan and Mohammed Azahuddin from India. If ICC keeps supporting financially, then we can bring legend crickerers from all cricket paying nations to support and coach our future stars.
ASD-6. Tell us, what plans do you have to raise funds to meet your objectives, because nothing can be achieved these days without money. Right?
Nabeel. Fund raising is the integral part of our future plan because financial resources are essential component to launch cricket at national and international levels. After the election, the new Board of Director’s first meeting took placed in Florida in early May. The top agenda item was to chalk out ways and means to raise huge funds through sponsorships and international events.
First we need to ensure that cricket has a solid foundation where level of cricket played is exciting and competitive. If the cricket is played in such a manner, other aspects of the game like television, marketing, sponsorship and globalization will fall into place, as long as the game is administered with great strength and integrity. Now as we are back on the ICC platform, we are optimistic that we well be able to host a few international events like a Tri-Nation or a Six-Nation series among India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, West Indies, Canada and USA then huge funds will start to flow in.
You must have read a recent report where Scotia Bank in Canada is agreed to allocate large amount to sponsor cricket in Canada. Remember we have more than 25,000 active and registered Cricket players in USA, therefore, if our targeted future plans manage to boost the cricket popularity in our country then we too can create an environment which can attract funds for Cricket.
ASD-7. There is no question that the young cricketers in the country, especially in the age group of 15 to 19 have been tremendously hurt by the ICC ban. What plans to you have for youth cricket?
Nabeel. As I said earlier, during the ICC ban, we did some stride in promoting the youth cricket. Thought there were no major accomplishments but we kept our main focus on youth development during the period. In our last board meeting we further chalked our plans to promote cricket at grass-rout level. We ensure our youth cricket players nationwide that they will a have plenty of new opportunities to develop and bolster their cricket talents. I would urge them to visit USACA web-site and check it out on regular basis.
ASD-8. As we speak, the new Indian Premier League in the Twenty-20 format has just kick-started. There is a lot excitement and it is talked among several sections that this is the ideal type for new and emerging countries like USA. Canada and China to enter the fray. How do you see that?
Nabeel. Twenty20 is a new style of game, which has taken the cricketing world by storm. It has been a huge success amongst the cricket lovers all over the world because it is all about entertainment and things happening very quickly. It is a whole new ball game, an enhancement of the one-day game to make the game fast, furious and instant.
Twenty-20 is the best thing that has happened to international cricket. USACA has decided to introduce Twenty-20 format in every regional leagues, so that it could be defined as initial step to strengthen the structure of the longer form of limited-over and Test match cricket.
I am confident that Twenty20 will truly boost cricket in USA and will play an enormously important part in the future of our cricket.
ASD-9. How much importance do you attach to media to promote cricket in this region?
Nabeel. Well nothing exists without media and I must appreciate your initiative to have this magazine. We can quote the example of India where IPL extravaganza enables businesses from around the world to access millions of cricket fans through advertising and media campaign. In the same vein as major sports media events such as the World Cup, the Indian Premier League is predicted to be a major revenue generator, through franchise and rights sales, advertising, sponsorships and ticket sales. In my knowledge, many global organizations have already out billion of dollars in IPL media coverage.
I personally believe that media is essential to promote the game of Cricket in USA. So yes, we truly understand the importance of media and USACA has definite plans to appoint a media liaison person who can disseminate our future plans and line of action to the stakeholders on regular basis.
ASD-10. We will be closely watching from here on the progress of cricket under the new administration. Would you accept our request to talk to us every three months to update us of your progress?
Nabeel. I have no problem with that at all. I believe that media has already played an important role in recently held USACA election and promoting cricket in USA in recent past. Media has pushed the people to know more about cricket and cricketing bodies. To cater the needs a number of magazines and web-sites actively updating the public on the various issues relating to cricket. I appreciate your initiative and effort, which will help to flourish the game of cricket in USA.