Youth cricket summit on tap in Colorado Springs
More than 50 youth coaches and coordinators will descend on the home of the US Olympic Committee national training center on February 13 and 14 for a two-day conference aimed at finding better strategies for the development of youth cricket in America. The ICC Americas office is conducting the seminar as part of their efforts to help unite cricket stakeholders from around the country.
"We hope the concepts and collaboration generated at this seminar will help the passionate youth cricket volunteers in the US to achieve the vision of cricket becoming the fastest growing participation sport in America for females and males," Ben Kavanagh, ICC Americas' regional development manager, said
In addition to American youth coaches who are traveling to Colorado from states including New York, New Jersey, California, Texas and New Mexico, several guest speakers will be giving presentations, including Netherlands Women's captain Esther de Lange and Cricket Australia national field manager Pat Hassett.
Perhaps the most innovative presentation of the weekend will be given by a representative from USA Ultimate, the national governing body of the competitive Ultimate Frisbee. ICC Americas' high performance consultant Tom Evans said the purpose of the conference was to get people thinking outside the box about ways to engage and grow. Having USA Ultimate involved, whose headquarters is also in Colorado Springs, enhances that cross-sport knowledge sharing.
"It's a different offering and a non-traditional sport, which cricket is in many ways to mainstream America," Evans said. "So there's lessons to be learned around how they get people involved in what is a non-traditional sport and how they keep them involved around that same messaging. So that was the appeal but I think there's a bit to be learned through that. There's plenty we can learn from sports in the US that aren't necessarily cricket people."
USA's youth participation numbers have been hovering between 600 and 1000 players for the last decade according to figures released in the ICC's annual Associate player data census. It is one area the ICC has zeroed in on as a priority in their strategic plan for helping to grow the game in the USA in the wake of USACA's June suspension.
"People are passionate about youth cricket but want to learn more about how to go about it," Evans said. "Hopefully some of the skills that they'll walk away with after this weekend is how to approach it or what I am doing at the moment could be improved or modified to make it bigger and better. There's going to be a few people who bring different perspectives but that's all good as long as people come with a mindset that they're there to learn, share and make cricket better as a result."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna