The seeds for growing cricket on the Coast were sown during a game of bocce at a Sunshine Coast Hospice Society fundraiser last fall.
Sunny Perera and Keith Brind, both hospice volunteers, were paired off to play against two others. Unknown to each other, both were cricket enthusiasts, and the conversation soon turned to that game.
“I tend to dream big,” Perera said. “I always wanted to introduce cricket to the Coast, to develop an interest in the game by the youth on the Coast, and hopefully one day, have some players in our national team.”
Brind agreed with him whole-heartedly and the two decided to give it a try.
“Our aim was to play cricket with anyone who was willing to give it a try, just to get the general public aware of the game. It was a long shot, and we knew it,” Brind said. “But we were willing to give it a try.”
At least 22 players are required to form two teams, and getting even half that many seemed an impossible task in a community where most people think cricket is an insect that chirps in the night.
At first, it was mainly retired expatriates from Commonwealth countries who applied to play, trying to relive the passion of a game they loved so much in their youth.
By January of this year, more and more people who had never played the game before started to apply.
Brind arranged to use the Davis Bay Elementary School gym one evening every week during February and March and under the supervision of Tom Grant, one of the players who offered to coach, a rigorous training program was put in place to get the newcomers in shape.
“As of the beginning of March, we were still a few short of the magic number of 22, but I was confident we would have two full teams by the beginning of May, and we did,” Perera said.
On May 3, the Sunshine Coast Cricketers were ready for their inaugural match at Shirley Macey Field in West Howe Sound, followed by regular games, weather permitting, every Sunday afternoon until the end of August.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the fields were shut down.
When the fields reopened last weekend, the Coast Cricketers did not waste any time in getting back to their practice sessions.
The turnout was not what was expected, but a big surprise was the attendance of three young players who really took to the game and will hopefully be the pioneers of a soon to be formed youth cricket league.
Under the guidance of Grant, training will begin for the youth and adults new to the sport during practice sessions at Shirley Macey and Hackett Park in Sechelt every Sunday and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Coast Cricketers currently have two softball cricket teams, but Grant is also working to form a hardball team that can play league matches against teams in West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Kitsilano, starting in the Spring of 2021.
“From what I have seen at the practice sessions, we will have a formidable hardball cricket team that will be a challenge to any opposition. Grant has a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and we form a good team in organizing all these activities,” Perera said.
Anyone interested in joining the Sunshine Coast Cricketers can contact Sunny Perera at 604-740-3888, Tom Grant at 604-696-0659 or Keith Brind at 604-886-4738.