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Calgary and District Cricket League (C&DCL) has a 115-year history.

A century later, cricket continues to make a hit in Calgary

Originating in England in the 16th century, cricket has evolved into a global phenomenon appealing to millions of fans. Cricket's rich heritage and long-standing tradition contribute significantly to its enduring and growing popularity across the world.

In Calgary, the Calgary and District Cricket League (C&DCL) has a 115-year history, and is one of the largest and oldest leagues in Canada. The league’s secretary, Hozaifa Cheema, says that over its longstanding history, the C&DCL has nurtured many athletes – men, women, and youth - who have gone on to complete at both the national and international level.

“Our roots take us back to 1908 in Riley Park where historically, we played on two pitches,” says Hozaifa. “In the last 15 to 20 years, we’ve always had players from Calgary on the Canadian National Team, in men’s and under 19 teams. We are really developing our women’s program and recently sent a female athlete to represent Canada. We are lucky to have players who have played at a very high level in other countries move to Calgary and are involved in the leagues.”

Hozaifa says that up until 2005 the C&DCL stayed relatively small with six teams. He says the league, which is the largest in Calgary, has been growing exponentially over the last 20 years and now counts over 100 teams.

As cricket has grown in Calgary, so has the number of leagues. There are seven additional leagues that hold City permits in Calgary: Calgary Cricket Council Society, Calgary Cricket Board, Calgary Cricket Community Board, Future Stars Cricket Association, South Cricket League, Calgary Sport League, and Western Cricket League. There is also interest in community-based cricket where groups play on their own.

“I think this growth goes hand in hand with the growth of our diverse immigrant community in Calgary,” explains Hozaifa. “There is a significant number of players who have grown up in Calgary. But the vast majority of the growth of the game came from newcomers who played in their home countries and move here and are surprised we have such a strong foundation of cricket right here in Calgary.”

In Calgary the cricket season runs from May until September, with each team averaging 19 games per season, mostly on weekends. A shorter format of the game allows the league to run games weekday evenings as well.

Recognizing the significant growth in the sport, The City worked with all leagues this year to ensure fair and equitable distribution of permits for cricket fields based on their number of teams. In 2023, The City reoriented two fields to create safer cricket fields for the community and is repairing an existing cricket net while installing new cricket nets in two locations. They are also working with cricket groups to identify sites for future investment. The City’s plans include looking for opportunities to increase the number of public cricket amenities available to all leagues.

Hopefully we can keep growing the game in partnership with The City,” says Hozaifa. “It’s a process because land doesn’t suddenly show up. But we are always willing to compromise to allow more teams into the league. Everyone deserves a chance to play.

Hozaifa Cheema

“The dream is to have an international quality stadium with flood lights so we can play at night,” laughs Hozaifa. “It is very common to play in the evenings in other countries because it is too hot to play during the day in the summer. They play through the night and the fields are used 24 hours a day.”

Cricket's popularity is strengthened by its reach, spanning across continents and attracting fans from diverse backgrounds. Countries like India, Pakistan, Australia, England, and the West Indies have traditionally been cricketing powerhouses, but the global appeal has contributed to the inclusivity of the sport, allowing fans from different cultures to connect and share their passion for cricket.

"It was my connections through cricket that I had before moving to Canada that helped me find a home, helped with all the responsibilities of settling into Canada - like getting my health card, and furniture for my first house,” explains Mustafa Iqbal, a Pakistani first-class cricketer who played for Lahore who moved to Calgary from Pakistan a year and a half ago. “Best of all I found my first job in Canada through the cricket community. The social group I have found for my family has also been established through people on my team who are in similar situations."

Hozaifa adds, “Some of the best friendships I have made in my life have come from the cricket field. In the game, there is time for conversation so you really get to know your team members. We are like a tightknit network, and we create a supportive community for Calgarians and newcomers. We help one another out, whether it is recommending a school, moving furniture or just being social. There is really a sense of belonging and a team for everyone.”

Cricket in action at Inland Athletic Park

Cricket in Calgary

Across Calgary there are roughly 2500 cricketers making up approximately 150 teams that play various formats of the game.

Every year in Calgary there is a marquee tournament that sees international starts represent from Canada, US, and the West Indies.

The first international sporting game between Canada and the US was a cricket match played in 1844.

Categories: Community, Recreation