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September 20, 2006
The Asian Cricket Council has announced that it has allocated $200,000 to the Chinese cricket authorities to promote the game inside the country, and that sum will be matched by the ICC, making the total investment $400,000.
The money will go towards funding school cricket programmes "in order to accelerate cricket's growth in the People's Republic", Syed Ashraful Huq, the ACC chief executive, told reporters. "This represents an opportunity for everyone involved with cricket in China," Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, added.
The pair are currently in Beijing on a fact-finding and promotional visit. Speed said that international cricket authorities were backing a 10-year development programme for the sport in China but no one should expect immediate results. Speed added: "Cricket in China is still very new and this funding from our two bodies is directed at strengthening the development structure for cricket as established by the state sporting administration."
The Chinese authorities have been actively pushing the sport, and 51 schools in Beijing and Shanghai are playing the game, with close to 6,500 children involved. An under-15s competition amongst schools was held in Beijing in July and in October the first inter-university competition is planned in the capital.
Sports officials in Beijing first expresssed an interest in cricket a decade ago, while China was admitted into the Asian Cricket Council in 2004 and joined the ICC the following year.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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