The Brantford Sports Council is executing a plan to turn Brantford into a centre of excellence for cricket in the near future.
“We have had exponential growth in our local cricket community in the last three years,” said Chris Kartick, treasurer of the Brantford Sports Council. “Recently we have seen a massive influx of people moving from larger cities, like those in the Greater Toronto Area, who wish to play cricket both competitively and recreationally.”
The city is currently home to six cricket clubs, five hardball and one recreational. Two of these clubs started between August and November of this year. Two of the six clubs have multiple teams within them.
“Right now, all of the clubs in Brantford are adult men,” Kartick said. “Rajesh from Panther Cricket Club, based out of Mississauga, has been a driving force in growing the sport. We have been working closely together to start a youth league and a ladies club.”
Kartick explained that he hopes the Sports Council can continue to provide support to the clubs, and will advocate in the future for more opportunities for all to play.
“The sport is growing all around us,” he said. “It is being played in the schools in Toronto and the GTA, like how we have soccer and football and rugby in schools. We are hoping that someday, schools in Brantford will do the same to give kids the opportunity to try it.”
While the pair are hoping to have the potential youth and ladies leagues started next year, the next challenge is finding space for pitches in the city. The need has been expressed to city council and work is underway to assist in the process of creating more space.
“Clubs have been using Waterworks Park to play, but it is a multi-sport park,” Kartick said. “Next year, the city is changing it to a pure cricket ground for these athletes. The city is putting down an astroturf pitch in the spring that will last us up to ten years.”
As of right now, only the Brantford Cricket Club can use Waterworks Park because of availability. Other clubs in the community are driving to Hamilton and Woodstock weekly to have access to a pitch.
Kartick said that the city’s Parks and Recreation department has been excellent to work with, supporting the growth of the sport in the community. The group has also met with the County of Brant to begin looking into spaces for a pitch within their communities.
“We need at least two pitches in the area to be able to start an official league,” he said. “Right now, our clubs are travelling to Hamilton, Mississauga and Niagara for games and tournaments. The goal is to have teams from those areas and beyond to play in Brantford on a weekly basis.”
This winter, cricket clubs and other sports organizations will be losing their indoor practice space. Access Storage is closing the sports complex, leaving teams looking for new space to train.
“In the future, the Sports Council definitely would like to see an indoor multi-sport complex open in the city, and we will continue to advocate for that,” Kartick said. “Access has been so amazing over the years, and we will miss the facility greatly.”
Back in October, the Brant County Cricket League, an initiative by Panthers Cricket Club, hosted a tournament that welcomed 18 teams to the community.
“The tournament was at Waterworks park and was condensed into two days,” Kartick said. “We were originally going to host 10 teams, but due to demand we welcomed 18 teams over the weekend. Teams came from London, Hamilton, Toronto and Belleville to play and a Brantford club made it to the finals. It was a great weekend and we are looking forward to continuing to grow and host more events like it in the future.”
Kartick said the group has already started to plan for a bigger tournament in May, and will also look at the potential for other dates throughout the summer.
Cricket is a team sport involving a bat and ball played between two teams of eleven players each. The objective is to score more runs (points) than the opposing team. A match is divided into innings during which one team bats, two batters at a time, and the other team bowls.