This sport has ‘exploded’ in popularity in Mississauga, City says

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Published August 30, 2023 at 12:56 pm

(Photo: City of Mississauga)

Mississauga is adding more cricket pitches to its landscape in response to the rapidly growing popularity of the sport across Canada’s seventh-largest city.

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, according to City of Mississauga officials.

“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 City spokesperson said in a news release. “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.”

City officials say the sport has been bolstered by the availability of cricket pitches across Mississauga, from Cawthra Park to Malton.

The City currently has nine cricket pitches available, with plans to develop more in the future.

“Cricket has picked up over the last few years and the demand for pitches in neighbourhoods is on the rise,” Kristina Zietsma, Mississauga’s director of recreation and culture, said in the news release. “Our current cricket pitches are well-utilized by the residents and community groups. We know there is a desire from the community to see the City add more pitches. It’s one of the things we’re looking at through our long-term recreational planning and in collaboration with community cricket groups.”

Played all over the world, cricket is a fan favourite among the many diverse communities in Mississauga, City officials note, including South Asian, Caribbean and Black communities.

Additionally, it has become popular among all ages, officials say.

“Cricket is a passion-fuelled sport. One of the most appealing things about the sport is its accessibility; anyone, at any age or skill level, can participate,” Mississauga recreation officials say.

The recent formation of the Mississauga Panthers Cricket Club, one of six organizations to comprise North America’s first cricket league, has also helped increase the sport’s popularity in town, the City says.

Azam Khan, 25, a promising batsman and keeper with the Panthers, grew up in Pakistan playing the sport “under the watchful eye of his father,” former international cricketer Moin Khan.

In the City’s news release, he notes that his father played in the Sahara Cup back in ’95 and ’99 and “…since then, cricket has picked up a lot in popularity in bigger cities like Mississauga.”

Hassan Mirza, CEO of the Panthers, has been working to strengthen cricket’s foothold in the city.

“A collaborative effort is needed from cities, individuals and corporations in order to grow cricket infrastructure in Mississauga,” Mirza said in the news release. “It’s important to identify suitable locations for new fields, form partnerships, seek funding and grants, develop training programs and really engage the community along with learning from successful examples in other countries.”

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

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