COMPTON – Saturday, Aug. 12 was a big deal for the Compton Sharks. The Compton youth cricket team got the opportunity of a lifetime when they took on the Hollywood Golden Oldies Cricket Club at the Dodgers Dreamfield Complex at Gonzales Park.
The inter-age matchup between the two cricket clubs was set up by the Southern California Junior Cricket Academy and the City of Compton.
Mustafa Khan. president & CEO of Southern California Junior Cricket Academy, was responsible for bringing cricket to Compton 27 years ago. Khan said he introduced the sport of cricket to the youths of Compton as a way to deter them away from gang activity.
“In 1996, I originally brought youth cricket to Compton as an alternative to gang involvement, to connect our inner-city kids with national & international friendships that could last a lifetime, to help level the playing field of life through travel & international cultural exchanges offered through the sport of cricket,” Khan said.
He added, “David Sentance and I established Southern California Junior Cricket Academy in Compton in 2015, which remains to be the first and only inner-city youth cricket program in Southern California.”
The Compton Sharks play in the North American Cricket League but operate under the umbrella of the Southern California Junior Cricket Academy. Khan said there are as many as 38 individuals on the team. The matchup against the Hollywood Golden Oldies Cricket Club was enough to bring out member of the Compton City Council to watch the showdown.
“This to me is wonderful,” Compton Mayor Emma Sharif said. “It actually allows our students to experience something different besides basketball and football. And it really opens up an opportunity for them to learn other types of sports. When they brought cricket in, I was excited about it because I knew that this was something that our kid was not familiar with. We wanted to make sure they get the exposure.”