MONROE TOWNSHIP, N.J. - In following his passion—Monroe Township High School Senior Abeer Khan—created an opportunity for others to have greater access to the sport he loves: Cricket.
Just over a year ago Khan, a first-generation Pakistani-American who picked up cricket at the age of 10—relentlessly pushed for the inclusion of the sport at his High School—attending board of education meetings and rallying support from the students.
"It’s like 11 pm on a school night, and I’m going in delivering a speech just from the heart, and also I think that was the thing that drove it home for most of the board," adds Khan, "They saw that it was coming from a student’s heart."
And Khan was able to get the administration behind him—something that hadn't been done before.
"You couldn’t ask for anybody better than Abeer, right?" says the school's athletic director, Sean Dowling. "He took it and ran with it. He presented it to our board of education. Our principal, Dr. Higgins was behind it. The first school in New Jersey to have cricket is a really cool thing."
In November, the Monroe Township Board of Education approved the state’s first-ever high school cricket club—open to everyone —and made it possible through a volunteer effort.
"When I see them playing the excitement, the cheering, supporting the team members," says Seema Taparia. "It’s phenomenal."
About 30 students participated in the club which practiced weekly.
"We all as a team, all different talents—from all different parts of our school have come together to be a part of this team," says Arshdeep Singh, a senior at Monroe Township High School. "We all want to support and make this team better as the years continue."
If the club continues to grow in participation—it will be eligible to become a varsity sport after a two-year trial period set by the school board.
"We want to create a lot of opportunities for these young kids to see it as a platform," adds Sushanth Konda, a coach for the cricket club and a founder of the U.S. Cricket League. "A platform where they can look to the future."
Not only have other schools across the state shown interest in starting their own clubs— but programs like these serve as a way to begin to cultivate homegrown talent.
"The journey has started, it’s not gonna end here," says Mohan Kumar, a coach with the Monroe Township High School cricket club and a founder of the U.S. Cricket League. "It’s just gonna expand. With the cricket World cup Happening in U.S. next year… cricket as an Olympic sport in LA."
As for Abeer—the senior is set to attend Rutgers University next year.