By Matt Law
Canada’s sporting history is synonymous with hockey and lacrosse … but cricket?
Sir John A. Macdonald once declared the game Canada’s first national sport – but cricket slowly drifted into the dusty corners of many Canadians’ memories.
This fall, however, students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University will bring cricket back into the spotlight.
While studying economics at Kwantlen, Monty Purewal found there were no organisations that interested him. He decided to bring his passion to the university. After some initial advertising and creating a Facebook group, 82 students signed up for the new cricket club. But lack of funds and few places to play slowed the progress of the club.
After recently being approved for $2,100 by the Kwantlen Student Association, the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Cricket Club has big plans for the future of the “gentleman’s” sport on campus. Purewal, who is president of KPUCC, hopes that cricket will be a helpful addition to students’ academic life.
“If you can do well in cricket you can do well in other aspects of life,” he said. “It teaches you how to be patient, it teaches you how when things don’t go your way stick through it.”
In recent years cricket has been gaining popularity. Twenty20 cricket, a form of the game that is much shorter and can be completed in around two hours, has drawn many people to the sport who previously steered clear of the daylong matches because they were too long.
Purewal was thrilled with the overwhelming response he had from students, but admits there have been some challenges to getting the club off the ground.
“The biggest problem for cricket is having a proper cricket field,” said Purewal
With only three cricket fields in Surrey, it can be hard to find those coveted places to practice, especially when other leagues with funding have already booked them.
Unlike a typical baseball diamond, a cricket field has a bare strip of dirt, called a pitch, that is 22 yards long and seven feet wide. This is where the bowler (like a pitcher in baseball) throws the ball – some of the world’s best bowlers can throw the ball close to 160 km an hour.
Finding equipment is another huge challenge. There are no retailers in the Lower Mainland that sell cricket gear and shipping can be very expensive. Having the money approved was a big step to overcoming these obstacles.
“I’m happy that we got that money so the next step would be for us to order the equipment as soon as we get the money,” he said.
The equipment will be the property of the KSA so all Kwantlen students will have an opportunity to participate.
Purewal’s vision for the club is for something much more than just another student organisation, however. He hopes it will help welcome international students to Kwantlen and give high school students a reason to choose to Kwantlen over other universities.
“It will be a good place where they can meet new people and they will have something that they are more familiar with and it will be good grounds for them to make friends,” he said.
Purewal also has plans to take cricket beyond Kwantlen. He hopes to establish an intercollegiate league by next year and has already talked to students at UBC, SFU and UFV.
“It’s like a religion to them,” he said,” even at UBC they’re not that organized but they still play cricket in parking lots. They get up at four or five a.m. in the morning and there’s no cars in the parking lot and they play cricket there.”
Purewal has had great response from students at other universities and his excitement is palpable. Bringing awareness to the club and getting more students involved is the top priority when classes resume in the fall. He suspects many more Kwantlen students and staff will become involved with the club as word gets out around campus.
The club has planned a beginner cricket clinic that will take place sometime after summer semester exams finish on Aug. 18. A student versus staff game has also been tentatively planned for Sept. 16.
For more information on the cricket club, visit facebook.com/groups/121993721194484/
About the Author: Matt Law is a freelance journalist based in Vancouver, B.C. He is currently finishing a degree in journalism and serving a second term as media editor at The Runner.
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