ISLAMABAD - Diamond Cricket Academy (DCA) youngsters along with academy head Moied Shaikh thanked Interior Minister Shahryar Afridi and sports journalists for saving their academy from illegal occupation of MCI/CDA and demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan of providing more facilities to them.

Around 50 cricketers of DCA along with mentor Moied Shaikh and North Zone President Shabbir Ahmed alias Bolla Bhai expressed these views while talking to The Nation on Sunday. “The cricket enthusiasts have been playing cricket here and getting modern-day coaching from Farrukh Hayat and first class cricketer Moied Shaikh while a number of national and international players also pay regular visit to our academy and give the youngsters important tips,” they said.

An 11-year-old leg spinner Arsalan Ali said he has been playing cricket at DCA for last two years. “I daily practice for two hours but on January 29, MCI/CDA staffers came in huge numbers and occupied the ground. Had we not gathered here along with IRCA and other officials, they would have destroyed our pitches, practice area as well as our careers. I want to request Interior Minister, PCB chairman and PM to save our futures and restrain cricket-enemy MCI Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz from his ambitions of destroying playing fields,” he added.

Another 13-year-old left-arm spinner Muhammad Ahmed said: “Islamabad has already been facing huge shortage of cricket grounds and DCA is the only academy of twin cities, where kids from far-flung areas come and play cricket. I request higher authorities to have mercy on us and let us play cricket and fulfill our dreams of playing for Pakistan, like a number of DCA youngsters have done in the past.”

Muhammad Arkab, 19-year-old fast bowler, who had played U-19 and first class cricket from Islamabad, said: “I came some 15 months back from Mardan to play at DCA. Trust me, I was raw material but only in a few months, I was completely transformed and provided with an opportunity to play for Islamabad and then for the country. I was here to save the DCA from MCI/CDA, who were all set to throw us out and lock the academy. The academy administration is charging very meager fee for providing all the facilities. I haven’t paid a single penny since I have been playing here. It is very easy to point fingers at others, but it is very hard to provide the youngsters a platform, where they may learn art of cricket.”

Sharing his views, Moied Shaikh lambasted the critics and thanked Interior Minister, cricketers, IRCA and all those who came in huge numbers to spoil MCI/CDA malicious designs. “Our unity has spoiled their efforts. I am thankful to Interior Minister Shahryar Afridi, who not only invited us for meeting, but also paid surprise visit to Diamond Cricket Ground and Academy and lauded our facilities. I am glad that he personally visited the grounds and realised that what kind of cricket facilities are being provided to the youngsters.”

“Being a first class player, Shahryar Afridi is a best judge and I am sure he will not only encourage Islamabad Regional Cricket Association (IRCA) but also provide facilities to the DCA. If we don’t provide cricket facilities to these youngsters, majority of them will be seen in hospitals or wasting their times in anti-social activities.

“I personally feel like Lahore and Karachi, the Islamabad Regional Cricket Association should also be given the charge of cricket grounds, as it will not only ensure grounds will be kept in safe hands and properly maintained, but also secure the futures of the generation next.”

 The DCA and IRCA have given Pakistan team a lot of top class players and we are working like a nursery for national team. I request all to have mercy on cricket and let us work for the youngsters and future of Pakistan cricket,” Moied concluded.