Cricket players will tell you, the sport is as important to them as a hockey is to northerners.
With more people from Asia moving to northern Ontario, it’s become crucial for them to get the sport established in this part of the world.
“We have almost 200, 250 people playing cricket in Thunder Bay and that’s something, especially for a place where cricket was nothing,” said Stefin Cyriac, a member of the Thunder Bay Kombans cricket team.
“We’re getting more and more inquiries about are you coming for this tournament, that tournament, and that’s all around Canada.”
This weekend, the Timmins Tigers hosted cricket teams from Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie in the first of several tournaments this summer.
The winning team will take home the Mayor’s Cup, a new trophy that the Timmins Tigers hope will help grow the sport and add a new level of prestige to the ‘gentleman’s game’ in the north.
“You have to think outside of the box, so I thought have we ever played a Mayor’s Cup here? They said ‘no,'” said Deepak Datta, a member of the Timmins Tigers team.
“Mayor (Michelle Boileau) is supportive, so why not dedicate a cup towards the mayor’s office … and it’s going to spread awareness in the whole town.”
Datta said because of strong local support, it means that after graduation some people have decided to stay in the north because cricket is offered.
“I had a sports background, so when I was in India, I used to represent my team over there. So when I moved here, I was planning something to get something related to that, so it was good to have cricket here,” said Bhavya Jain, another member of the Tigers.
The Timmins cricket team is hosting another tournament in two weeks, with teams from North Bay and Sudbury participating, and there will also be one on Canada Day weekend with teams from Brampton and Orillia coming to play.
“It helps the local economy here too because they live in the hotels, they go enjoy in the restaurant, they go enjoy in the bars and all that,” said Datta.
As the sport continues to grow in the north, some clubs like Thunder Bay’s is also getting children and women involved.