T20 WORLD CUP, 2024

NYPD's cricket guys

The NYPD cricket team
The NYPD cricket team ©Cricbuzz

The setting is what you'd expect. A relatively packed and busy office with the late evening New York sun lighting up the cubicle-filled room in different hues through the window. Along with keyboards clicking away, constant chatter over the intercoms, internal conversations that involve a lot of police terms, loads of papers and folders strewn around, and with post-it notes pinned all over the walls.

But it's Detective Ahmad Chohan's desk though that catches everyone's eye at the New York Police Department's (NYPD) Special Victims Division in the East Side of Manhattan. Like it does yours. Not surprisingly. For, arranged neatly in front of Chohan's computer screen are three cricket balls, a pink one, a white one and a red one. To his right, on the wall beside him, meanwhile, rests an A4 size poster which reads "Cricket Team" on top of a logo for NYPD Cricket. Not what you'd expect to find at one of the offices of the most well-known police force in the world.

Chohan senses your pleasant surprise and almost immediately acknowledges it too.

"Yeah. Shock is generally the first reaction I've always experienced when people find out about the NYPD Cricket team. This poster I have had up for over 2.5 years since the time we moved into this office. This is how I represent our club at work and try to spread awareness for what we do. And I'm proud of it. My colleagues call me the 'cricket guy', and when they see the cricket balls in place, they say oh he must be away playing cricket," Detective Chohan tells Cricbuzz with a chuckle.

He is flanked by another colleague and Officer Antonio Antenucci, who works for the office of the NYPD's Public Information department. He's also the one who's organised the interview. Antenucci is not a cricket fan. In fact, he's just watched finishing his first live match, on Chohan's tablet. Yes, it's only minutes since the USA have pulled off the biggest shock in T20 World Cup history by beating Pakistan in Dallas. And even though there are a couple of Pakistani team jerseys in a box next to the detective, he insists on being a fan of cricket, regardless of who is playing.

Three cricket balls arranged nearly on Detective Ahmad Chohan's desk
Three cricket balls arranged nearly on Detective Ahmad Chohan's desk ©Cricbuzz

There's no work on Chohan's mind this weekend though. It's only cricket. And he'll be there at the Nassau County Cricket Stadium on Sunday (June 9) watching India play Pakistan in what he calls a "historic moment" for cricket in the USA.

"I've hosted friends and other NYPD cricket club members at my house so often for India-Pakistan matches. But to be there in person for one in my backyard, I live 15 minutes away and can walk there, will be special. Sunday is all about cricket for me, not law enforcement," he says.

Chohan moved to the USA from Pakistan in 1992, when he was 14. He talks about how different things were for South Asian migrants back then, about how cricket was a part of his identity even back then. It is this connection with the sport that he grew up obsessing over that would eventually lead to the conception of the NYPD Cricket team. It was after all a love that he shared with a number of fellow officers from various departments who were also from either India or Pakistan or from the Caribbean islands. While the club is funded completely by the members themselves, Chohan can't stop raving about the support from the NYPD in terms of allowances given to the players for days off whenever they have cricket matches to play.

"We formed the team in 2010, back when there weren't always enough players to fill the side. But then that number started growing with a lot of officers coming on board, and then we decided to form the NYPD Cricket Club. Fourteen years later, we have one of the best cricket teams in the country" says Chohan.

The Club currently has 36 members in their ranks, and they include officers from various departments including Transit, Housing and those in different precincts. Chohan is the president of the club and talks about how his team also includes some very high-ranking officials.

But admits that not everyone in the NYPD overall is still aware of them.

"When people within the department find out we have a cricket team, they're like what, when did that happen? When I tell them 2010, they're lie how come we never heard of it. Even though our team is spread city-wide, not every command is aware of us. And I hope that this World Cup on American soil will change all that. That soon enough we'll have a lot of information about us on the official NYPD website."

The NYPD cricket team participates mainly in the Commonwealth Cricket League, which has over 70 teams from around New York City. And it was familiar surprise that greeted Chohan when he approached the league in 2011 to have their team registered.

"I reached out to the league and asked them if we could register our team. And they said What? The NYPD has a cricket team? Are you guys serious? I told them about us, and we haven't looked back since," he reveals.

The NYPD Cricket Club currently has 36 members in their ranks, and they include officers from various departments
The NYPD Cricket Club currently has 36 members in their ranks, and they include officers from various departments ©Cricbuzz

In addition to the league, the NYPD cricket team has also been traveling overseas to play against other police departments from other countries, to help promote awareness around their club. They also play the annual NYPD Challenge Cup when the Toronto PD travels across the border, while Chohan and his team reciprocate in kind for the North American Trophy. There's also the Dylan Stewart Memorial Trophy where police department cricket teams from the UK and Ireland come over. The most recent tour for the NYPD cricketers was to Pakistan, a visit back to the motherland for Chohan.

The personal highlight for the detective of course was playing a match at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. But it was more what the club was able to give back to Pakistan that matters more to Chohan.

"While playing cricket is what our passion is, our club is also all about helping the community and helping people and kids in need, both at home and overseas. We've donated cricket kits to kids in Jamaica and went to an orphanage in Guyana with books and other sports gear. Did the same for the kids in Pakistan. A few years ago, when the island of Barbuda was underwater due to floods, we reached out to the Antigua PD and ended up raising money and sending them notebooks and pens and pencils for the schoolkids who'd lost everything there. That's one of our major goals to help with this charitable work," says Chohan. The pink ball on his table, meanwhile, he says represents their support for cancer, and even has a cancer logo on one side.

Chohan does admit that there are some players they come up against who are a bit taken aback when they see a bunch of NYPD officers, even if they're not in uniform, in the opposition. But sharing a common passion for cricket he feels also helps them get closer to the common public, since on the cricket field they just come across as regular people. And their growing popularity has also resulted in civilian cricketers approaching Chohan with requests to play for their team.

"I receive thousands of emails from people who want to play for us, and I find it very bad to turn them down since our team is only for officers. But then we had one young guy from Guyana a few years ago who said he'd even join the force if it meant he could play. And he did, by joining as an NYPD auxiliary and then is now a regular in the team," he reveals. There've also been those from non-cricketing backgrounds who've tried their hand at the sport thanks to the team, but only one of them has had the discipline to keep practicing and get good at it. He calls this officer the biggest convert he's managed so far.

The best young player in the side, Chohan says, is Assad Munawar, who started from the summer youth program run by NYPD Cricket Club, and then became a police officer, before passing his promotional tests and becoming a Sergeant.

"He is really good and wins games for us single-handedly at times. There's another guy who's so good, he could have played first-class cricket in many countries." The dream of course is of someday having someone from the NYPD cricket club representing the USA in an international tournament, maybe even a World Cup.

"My goal is to start a youth program that runs right through the year, so that we have kids who can play cricket all year long. That's the dream for now. And then why not, we could have an NYPD police officer playing for the USA some day."

ShareTweet

COMMENTS

Move to top
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news