The last weekend in June kicked off Events Ontario Softball Cricket League (EOSCL). Saturday June 23 was an event at Paramount Restaurant to unveil the team jerseys and captains. The league expanded from eight to 17 teams this season including teams representing town councillors.
Azar Akbari is President of Events Ontario. They thought Milton presented an opportunity to create a league thanks to the population from, India, Pakistan and other south Asian countries. “It’s expected people from those countries would know cricket,” he said. Approximately 19% of Milton is South Asian. The league has spread via word of mouth. “Whoever gets associated with our business, he/ she likes it so much they start spreading the word, and telling others,” he said of the expansion.
One of the new teams is the Milton Sports Association. Although the team is in its first year, the players are in their third. Balligh Rehman is the team captain. He played hardball cricket back in Pakistan growing up, before moving to Dubai. “This game reminds me of all my previous enthusiasms for cricket,” he said. Let the By Laura Steiner | Photos by Sarah Arfan He likes that the league brings lots of players together. “They are working very well in different things, but in cricket they are playing together.” He finds it a very competitive league.
Farhan Huda as a team captain as well as an all-rounder meaning he fields, throws, and bats. “It’s a great opportunity for the players themselves, and their families to come together, and see the game we love,” he said. He’s been playing since childhood. “Coming here, and playing with a bunch of people with similar interests; the old memories are coming together.” He said of the experience. “The main goal is to go, and have fun. At the same time if you win, that’s a bonus,” he said of the hopes for this year.
The league’s continuing success is down to its sponsors. Zahid Syed is a wealth adviser with Orooj Financial. He conducted seminars with Events Ontario, and was invited to sponsor a team. “The best way to give back to the community is to have these games, so people can gather together. Cricket is the national pastime for Pakistan. “Whenever someone says cricket, we are there,” he said.
The league plays every weekend until September at Sherwood Park. For more information check their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EOSCLeauge
Photos by: Sarah Arfan