Hosting international cricket tournament would give Mississauga an identity, councillor says


Published September 14, 2023 at 1:58 pm

(Photo: City of Mississauga)

A Mississauga councillor is pushing to improve the city’s cricket facilities in hopes of attracting an international tournament next year that she says would help Canada’s seventh-largest city further carve out an identity for itself.

Speaking at a recent City of Mississauga general committee meeting, Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla expressed disappointment that the city missed out on hosting a women’s cricket tournament this year because there weren’t enough adequate facilities to pull it off.

She said she was further disheartened to learn that Mississauga sports and recreation facilities staff can’t guarantee the city will have the ability to host such an international tournament even next year.

The main issue, according to city staff, is that the existing cricket pitches in town are so heavily used by Mississauga residents that their upkeep and repair take much time and effort.

Damerla noted that Brampton has already “successfully positioned itself for men’s cricket, and it’s a growing sport,” so why can’t Mississauga welcome women’s cricket in the same manner, she wondered.

“I think we have the ability to corner the market in some of these (other) sports, like cricket,” the councillor told her colleagues and city staff, adding Mississauga’s stated future plans already call for increasing investments in cricket.

“Whether it’s Mississauga or Brampton, we’re all trying to carve out identities independent of Toronto,” Damerla continued, adding, “so we’re never going to get the international hockey or football or all of that; that’s taken by Toronto, but I think we have the ability to corner the market in some of these newer sports. So, while we wait for (Mississauga’s Future Directions plan) to make those investments, I want to make sure next year we find a way that the quality of the grass can be maintained so we can hold a (cricket) tournament.

“I get the logistical issue. The way I understand it, it’s because (the cricket pitches) are used by so many groups, staff just don’t have the time to fix it. Well then, how does Brampton do it?”

Damerla concluded her remarks, saying: “I’m just putting it on our radar because it would be a shame if we lost the opportunity next year as well.

“…do we take a stand and say Mississauga is going to carve out a spot for itself independent of Toronto, and this is our niche? And maybe it’s not women’s cricket. Maybe it’s something else. But definitely cricket would be great. Women’s cricket would be amazing.”

Responding, city staff noted that Mississauga has already hosted international cricket tournaments at existing facilities and that two more cricket pitches are being built in response to the sport’s growing popularity here.

Furthermore, it’s about striking a balance between the needs of the community with respect to cricket facilities versus the needs of any tournament that would seek to set up in Mississauga, staff added.

Aided by the presence of organized groups such as the new Mississauga Panthers Cricket Club, which participated in the third GT20 cricket tournament held this summer in Brampton, the popularity of the global sport is at a high point in Mississauga, city officials said earlier.

“The popularity of the great game of cricket, helped by clubs like the Panthers, has exploded across Mississauga and the city is helping promote participation in the game through the availability of many quality cricket pitches supporting local clubs for all ages and levels of skill,” a recent news release from the city stated. “Cricket truly is an international game, which makes it a perfect fit with the residents of Mississauga and is why we continue to promote it.”

Mississauga currently has nine cricket pitches, with plans to develop more in the future.

The city’s newest recreation facility, the $51-million state-of-the-art Churchill Meadows Community Centre and Sports Park in the west end, also has plans to add a full-size, lit cricket pitch.

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