Kids can learn to play cricket in Wellington during summer vacation

During May, June and July, young people in the northern Colorado will have several opportunities to participate in a Learn to Play Cricket program.

The program will take two forms. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Collins, Loveland and Wellington will have programs running throughout the first six weeks of the summer break, which starts June 1. Boys & Girls Clubs participants from 7 years upward are invited to take part. The athletic directors of individual Boys & Girls Clubs have had basic training in the game and accredited Cricket Australia coach Graham Doust will be on hand to teach the skills and assist in running the game.

The second opportunity will be provided as part of the summer holiday Fort Collins Recreator program. Sessions will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30 p.m. from May 28 through June 27. Registration for the Recreator program can be made by phone 970-221-6256 or online at fcgov.com/recreator.

The emphasis of both programs is to introduce a new game, a range of skills and to have fun. Although not widely played by Americans, cricket is played internationally with the game being a major sport in places like England, Australia, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, the West Indies and South Africa. Ironically the U.S. was a country in which cricket was played into the late 1800s. The earliest international match took place between Canada and the U.S. in 1844. Industrialization, combined with the amount of time required to play older versions of the game, conspired to elevate baseball as the game of choice, and cricket faded. Today the game is picking up in the U.S., and is a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

The program has been organized by Mike Riley of the Fort Collins Cricket Club and had its conception in Yorkshire in England in 2010. It was at the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival that Riley met Doust who is an accredited Cricket Australia coach and at that time was an elementary school principal in the Australian state of New South Wales. With Doust’s retirement on the horizon, Riley asked him if he might like to volunteer to run an introductory program in Fort Collins. The plan has developed from that meeting and has been fully supported by the Fort Collins Cricket Club, the Colorado Cricket League and the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) which is this country’s link to the International Cricket Council, the official world body for cricket.

Doust is also keen to talk to parents who may be interested in learning more about the game and how it can be played as a family activity. If there is sufficient interest Doust and Riley will discuss the possibility of setting up a junior league at some time in the not too distant future.

Brian Walters, the Central West Regional Representative from the USACA traveled to Fort Collins to attend a kick-off meeting for these programs and to meet with Riley, Doust and the athletic directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs — Brian Drissel, Andy Abbot and David Uffner.

If you want more information, call Mike Riley at 970-218-0141.

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