April 30, 2018

USA's First Girls-Only Cricket Competition Set To Launch

Introduction: This year girls in Maryland and Virginia will be participating in the first ever girls travel cricket competition in the USA, which is being conducted by the Maryland Youth Cricket Association (MYCA) and the Bowie Boys and Girls Club (BBGC). The season begins on May 5. The league will consist of four teams: one each from Chantilly and Ellicott City and two from Bowie. The BBGC started the first elementary school cricket league in the USA in 2014 (the BEST Cricket League), and the first middle school cricket league in the USA in 2015 (the WAMS Cricket League). In 2018, there are 19 elementary school teams and 10 middle school teams with a total of 420 students including 115 girls. 58 of these girls now play in the girls league.


To get ready for the start of the season, the Bowie 1 and Bowie 2 had a friendly game. The game was very competitive and the players were enjoying it thoroughly. However, it started raining three-quarters of the way through. Now all of the girls are looking forward to the rematch when they'll play for real.


Photos of the game can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/bowiecricket/media_set?set=a.1944609745869605.1073741847.100009617962241&type=3&uploaded=178


Background: The school cricket program originated in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) with support from its CEO, Dr Kevin Maxwell. A partnership was formed between PGCPS and BBGC to officially start the leagues. Dr Maxwell saw firsthand the enthusiasm and excitement the students and parents had for the game during the first elementary school cricket championship game between Whitehall and Heather Hills in 2014. At that time matches were played only on blacktops (outdoor basketball courts) since cricket pitches and fields were not available. To take the game to the next level, Dr Maxwell approved the construction of three cricket pitches at PGCPS elementary schools used exclusively for the school and youth programs. With help from Dr Maxwell, the school cricket program expanded to other counties in Maryland and Virginia. PGCPS is definitely leading the nation in school cricket, and the cricket program does not cost the school system any money. Now hundreds of families are enjoying cricket, and kids have another avenue to stay active.


Ellicott City Girls Team: When Amrutha Alibilli’s dad came to the United States a few years ago from India, he did not think it would ever be possible for his daughter to play organized cricket here. He thought to himself that maybe his son might get a chance to play cricket, but not his daughter. Fast forward to 2018 and now Amrutha is playing cricket for her school’s coed club team, the Dragons, at Dunloggin Middle School. Amrutha is also one of 16 girls in the Ellicott City All Girl Cricket Team.

The Ellicott City team is captained by Anushka Ganoo. Anu also plays for the Dragons and is very passionate about the game. She always enjoyed watching cricket and even attended a match in the Indian Premier League. Whenever her PE teacher (Mrs. Stefan) offered the cricket elective, Anu would be the first to sign-up. She got truly hooked on the game by attending training sessions offered by the BBGC. Anu just cannot stand it whenever her cricket practice is cancelled. The girls league is giving her the opportunity to make a difference, spread awareness about female cricketers and also involve more girls in cricket. Anu will be in high-school next year and plans to help get cricket started there. 


Bowie 1 Girls Team: Stephie Janey started playing cricket in 2017 at Whitehall Elementary School in Bowie. She decided to have a go at cricket because her friends were on the team. With some of the top players in the BEST Cricket League, Whitehall was able to win the championship game for the second time. While playing alongside the boys at Whitehall, Stephie’s role was limited as she was learning the game. But, when she played in the first ever all girl two-day tournament over the Memorial Day Weekend in 2017 in Bowie, she transformed herself from a shy, reserved player to a confident, proficient cricketer. Playing in the girls-only matches certainly made a difference in Stephie’s game and brought out the best in her. Stephie is the vice-captain of the Bowie 1 girls team.

The captain of Bowie 1 is Urenna Acholonu. Urenna is a sixth grader, and this is her 5th year playing the game. Last year she played for the coed Bowie 11U travel team and led the team to victory with her batting over arch-rival GKCC. She started playing at Heather Hills Elementary School because it was the only competitive sport offered at her school. She thought cricket was fun when she was introduced to the game during a PE demonstration. Urenna is eager to play in the girls league because she wants to show boys that girls can be great at cricket, too. 


Bowie 2 Girls Team: Alicia Fernando is the skipper and assistant coach for the Bowie 2 girls team. Alicia has played at the 15U level on a coed team with the regular, leather cricket ball. She was encouraged to start playing cricket by Mr. Jones, PE teacher at Whitehall. Her dad, Roy Fernando, also played cricket growing up in Sri Lanka. Roy coached the school team that year and is the head coach for the Bowie 2 girls team. Alicia has more fun more playing cricket with girls and wants to share her experience with her teammates to make them better cricketers. Alicia’s long term goal is to play for the USA women’s national side and to be a cricket coach.

Andrea Vidal learned her cricket at Hollywood Elementary School in College Park and will be representing Bowie 2. Her family is from Mexico and Guatemala and knew nothing about the game before. Andre decided to start playing cricket because it looked different and interesting. She joined the girls team to make history by participating in the first ever girls cricket league. Andrea enjoys making new friends from playing cricket, especially with the girls team. She is always thinking about cricket, and sometimes she dreams about the game.


Chantilly Girls Team: Sneha Kalyan is looking forward to the girls cricket league and representing Chantilly. Sneha found that most of the sports in Chantilly are primarily for boys and the few sports offered to girls were very competitive and are for the more athletic girls. The girls team caught her interest because it was open any girl regardless of skill level. Sneha’s mom is from India and was always interested in cricket, but she did not get an opportunity to play or join a team. Sneha likes that all the girls are getting to bat and bowl and improve their game. She finds it very thrilling when batting and running between wickets to score runs. Sneha is looking forward to keep playing and be the best player she can be with the hope of playing cricket at the national level.

Sisters Akshara and Anushka Subburam are also enjoying the girls cricket league. None of the other sports interested Akshara. When she saw a cricket demo at her school during PE, she begged her parents to join the school team as soon as she got home. Her parents immediately agreed because this was the first sport Akshara asked to play. Being in second grade, Anushka was too young to join the school team. She was overjoyed to hear that she could play for the girls team as they were short of players. Even though she is petite, Anushka has good hand-to-eye coordination and can hit the ball well. Both girls are looking forward to playing cricket for years to come and want to keep improving their game.

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