Frank F. Islam
Lessons on the Team, the Game and Grit
Maryland Youth Cricket Association Banquet
Thank you very much for that kind introduction. It is my pleasure and honor to be here with all of you this evening to participate in this celebration. Thank you for your warm welcome and your hospitality.
I want to express my deep gratitude to Jamie Harrison for inviting me to speak on this special occasion. Let us give him a big round of applause.
As I look at all of you in the youth cricket leagues, I see me in you. I see the future of the world. You are the hope of tomorrow. You are promise and potential of the world.
I will direct my formal remarks to those of you who are the players in the youth cricket leagues. Before doing so, however, I must recognize and acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments of the Maryland Youth Cricket Association.
This organization is truly one of a kind. Hosting an elementary cricket league, a middle school cricket league, and initiating the only statewide cricket championship in America is a remarkable achievement.
Congratulations to Jamie Harrison and his colleagues who have made this happen. Congratulations also to you parents who drive your kids to practice, watch their games and cheer them on no matter whether they win or lose. Finally, congratulations to you coaches who are infusing and instilling in these youth the discipline and the values of the great game of cricket.
My hat is off and my hands are together for all of you. Please join me in giving yourselves a big round of applause.
Okay, now it is my time to be the batter and to talk with you youth. I’m certain that this is the moment that all of you young people in the audience have been waiting for. I’m certain that you’d rather spend the next few minutes listening to me than eating dessert or playing among yourselves.
Seriously, I know that’s not the case. In fact, although it is difficult for me to remember myself at your age, I think that sitting in your seats and having some adult talking to you this late on a Saturday evening is about the last thing that you would like to be doing right now.
Still, I ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt and a chance to get at bat. I will try to score a few runs by speaking a little bit about three topics that I believe that you will find important both tonight and as you move forward in life. Those topics are: the team, the game and grit.
Let me begin by talking about the team. After I give this speech, I will present the Frank Islam Cup to Future Stars School of Cricket, the team that was the winner of the 16U state cricket championship.
They are not the only winning team here tonight, however. Each of you and the teams on which you played this season are also winners. You are winners because you worked diligently and competed fairly to do and be the best that you can be.
I’m going to ask that all of the players in the room tonight to please stand.
- First, 11U players:
- Next, the 13U players:
- And the 16U players:
- And finally, the Girls Division Players
Now that you are all standing, I ask that you look around at those kids who were on your team with you this year. Remember them. Remember your team.
I ask that you remember also that there is no “I” in team. There is only we. It is all of us coming together to pursue a common goal.
Yes, in the professional sports world, batters like Virat Kohli of India and Babar Azam of Pakistan are the most well-known. But, without their teams – all the players on the field, they would be nothing.
Cricket is a team sport. It is a sport that you have learned.
Through cricket you have also learned teamwork. Your teamwork on the cricket field is preparing you for doing more teamwork as you move ahead in your schooling and eventually to the career that you choose.
You have already learned much from cricket and from those associated with it. Please give all of the those here tonight that are part of one magnificent team – the Maryland Youth Cricket Association team – a hand and take a seat.
As I said, cricket is a team sport. But it is much more.
As the preamble to the laws of cricket states, “Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself.”
The spirit of cricket is truly differentiating. Indeed, it is written, “Cricket more than any other sport has traditionally been associated with the virtues of honesty, integrity, fair play and teamwork.”
Let me repeat those virtues – honesty, integrity, fair play and teamwork. Those are the values that you are learning on our Maryland playing fields.
I am confident they will be enduring values and they will hold you in good stead forever. Another thing that I am confident that you are learning on our cricket playing fields is the importance of grit.
What is grit? Grit is the power and the passion to persevere. Grit is the key to success in life.
Those are big words. Let me state them in another way, “When the going gets tough. The tough get going.”
The exceptional Indian cricket batsman Virat Kohli put it this way, “Whatever you want to do, do with full passion and work really hard towards it. Don’t look anywhere else. There will be a few distractions, but if you can be true to yourself, you will be successful for sure.”
I don’t know Kohli, but I do know me. I know Frank Islam. And, I can tell you from personal experience that his advice is sound.
I spent my younger years in India. Even though I loved the game of cricket, I was not very good at it. Truth be told I was not good at all.
So, I knew that I had to find another avenue to achieve success and I did. I came to the United States at the age of 16, got my degrees in information technology, started my own business and through hard work and determination – grit – was able to succeed beyond my wildest dreams.
Cricket played a role in shaping my path and my journey. What I learned about the team, the game, and grit helped make a difference for me.
I am certain cricket will make a difference for you young people as you find and pursue your passion as well. That is why I sponsored the Frank Islam Cup. That is why I am so inspired to be with all of you tonight.
Thank you for listening to me. I have no doubt that at some point in the future, I will be in an audience listening to one of you talk and learning about the lessons of the team, the game, and grit from you. I very much look forward to that time – even if it might be a on a late Saturday night.
Good luck. God Bless you all. In the true spirit of cricket, always play hard and play fair.