By Jihan Anwar
The official launch of the Yemen Cricket League (YCL) took place on 12 April at Al Tahreer Stadium in Sana’a.
The opening ceremony celebrated the start of the 3rd edition of the Yemen Cricket League which will see the participation of a total of seven teams from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The teams include the Arabian Stars Cricket Club (ASC); Al-Fatah Cricket Club (AFC); Bengal Tigers Cricket Club (BTC); Dove Cricket Club (DCC); Sanaa Challenger Cricket Club (SCC); Sanaa Strikers Cricket Club (SSC) and Friend Cricket Club (FCC).
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Yemen congratulated the seven teams and affirmed the importance of the sport; he also indicated that there were future plans to help in the training and coaching of a Yemeni team. The ceremony was followed by a match between the finalist teams: Arabian Stars versus Dove Cricket Club.
A bat-and-ball game, cricket is a foreign sport to Yemenis, yet one of the most popular games in Southern Asia. Khalil Reman, one of the 11 cricket players of AlFatih Cricket Club team, has played cricket since he was in primary school; in India and Pakistan, cricket enjoys the same status and popularity football enjoys in Yemen and other Arab countries.
“Basically, the purpose of the cricket league is to connect and gather sport enthusiasts and, more importantly, to motivate and encourage young Yemenis to participate in this sport, instead of other hobbies that may endanger their health and abilities,” Reman said.
Indian’s Ambassador to Yemen said that cricket could encourage Yemenis to spend time in a healthier way, and expressed his desire to see a match between two Yemeni cricket clubs in the near future. Chinese Ambassador to Yemen observed that volleyball, table tennis and basketball were popular in Aden in the past and that with an improvement of the security situation, these and other sports would rise in popularity.
Such activities are needed in Yemen, said the Turkish Ambassador, who expressed his full support for the YCL. The Syrian Ambassador thanked the embassies sponsoring the event for allowing for a ‘different sort of Friday’ in the country; Indonesia’s Ambassador stated that both national and international communities should unite to support such activities.
Cricket, a new sport to Yemen, may represent the beginning of a new Yemen, strengthening relations and developing social communities in healthy ways, said the Somali Ambassador to the country.