New York:Cricket lovers the world over may be preoccupied with the Ashes battle between England and Australia, but in New York city cricket is building bridges. New York Police Department (NYPD) is using cricket to build stronger links with South Asian youth living in the city.
Twice a week, South Asian youngsters are rounded up by the NYPD for a game of cricket. In an effort to establish positive relations with the multiple ethnic groups of New York City, the NYPD organized a soccer tournament but found it was unable to catch the interest of South Asians.
"There are still large groups communities that don't play soccer so we had to think-what do they play- Cricket! So we said let's put together a Twenty20 cricket competition," said officer Jeff Thompson, coordinator, NYPD Twenty20 cricket tournament.
Now the, NYPD's Twenty20 cricket cup is opening doors to a community that has, post 9/11, often had reason to view the police with suspicion.
"It gives us Muslim kids a change to feel welcome with the police officers and not feel like they are going to come and try do some thing to us because they think we have a bomb or some thing, you know what I mean," said Fazar Showan, a cricketer.
Under the NYPD's supervision, 10 teams and 170 players, mostly young immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the West Indies are duelling it out on the cricket field and building bonds into the future.
"I know that the NYPD does good for the people so when I grow up I want to be a police officer, " Kamran Chowdhary, a young cricketer said.
In a post 9/11 world, the NYPD has often had a rocky relationship with the Muslim community but now as it tries to rebuild the trust, love for cricket has come to their rescue.