February 10, 2009

Florida Cricket Academy being set up with Customs Academy’s collaboration


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Karachi-based Customs Cricket Academy (CCA) has agreed to extend its total support to the Florida Cricket Academy (FCA) being set up in Fort Lauderdale. 

Naeem-ul-Haq, a former first-class cricketer from Karachi now having relocated in the town Orlando in the United States of America (USA), has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CCA, who have offered them every possible support in spreading the game of cricket.

“It’s very heartening to note that Naeem, one of our former colleagues at the Pakistan Customs, has worked his way to setting up an academy in Florida. We have gladly joined hands with the FCA, offering them all kind of technical assistance that they may be needing from time to time,” Jalaluddin, a former Test fast bowler and the Head Coach of the CCA, said in a recent conversation.

“Spreading the game of cricket is our mission. We have set an example in Pakistan by developing state of the art coaching facilities at the CCA. It’s must be quite exciting to develop similar coaching facilities in USA,” Jalaluddin, the first man to record a hat-trick in One-day Internationals, remarked.

Naeem-ul-Haq, having played first-class cricket for Pakistan Customs, Karachi and Pak PWD before his emigration to the USA, has had the dream to set up a cricket academy in his adopted country for quite sometime.

Naeem’s dream is now about to be fulfilled as he has already formed a not-for-profit organization that’s registered with the local authorities. He has acquired a piece of land in Fort Lauderdale located on the outskirts of the famous town of Miami.

“We have acquired on lease a portion in a park. We are in the process of laying artificial practice pitches for cricket and we plan to make the Academy functional this summer. We are confident of launching the FCA during the month of June or July,” Naeem disclosed during his recent visit to Karachi.

“At the FCA we would be offering training and coaching facilities to the youngsters in the age group of 12 to 17 years. We would be offering our services free of cost and we would even provide complimentary kit to the trainees. The FCA will run throughout the year with the weekly classes every Saturday while there will be sessions on Saturdays as well as Sundays during the summer vacations,” Naeem explained.

Naeem-ul-Haq will be the Head Coach of the FCA who will be assisted by former cricketers Rizwan-uz-Zaman, Ahad Masood and Waqar Malik while Raza Jafri of USA Grocers would be the main sponsor of the project.
Naeem, a qualified Level-II coach, felt that the establishment of the FCA could be helpful in turning things around in the USA for the development of the game.

“We would be coordinating with the educational institutions, schools in particular, for making our academy work. No sport can flourish until the educational institutions get into it by all means. We need to convince the institutions that cricket is a game hugely beneficial in character-building of youngsters,” the former cricketer said.

“There are a lot of people living in the USA who love cricket. Quite a few exhibition matches have been organized here over the years that proved successful as well. I think the opportunity is there. We need to work very hard indeed to get the ball rolling in the right direction. There are willing people across the country but we need to put our acts together if we are to make an impression in a big way,” he reckoned.

Naeem, whose elder brother Anwar-ul-Haq met with greater success in first-class cricket, was of the opinion that the Pakistan community in particular could be greatly interested in the promotion of cricket in USA.

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