Success inspires Edmonton's female cricket team to recruit new players

Cricket does not have a huge following in Alberta, but the Edmonton women's team is hoping to change that.

Some members of women's team to represent Alberta at national tournament in Toronto later this month

Edmonton's female cricket team is trying to expand Alberta's league and send some of their players to Toronto to represent Alberta in the Canada Day Cup. (Edmonton Women's Cricket/Facebook)

Ena Nicholson began playing cricket when she was 50 years old after seeing a flyer at the rugby club.

Nicholson, who stays active playing soccer and squash, saw the flyer as a chance to reconnect with her heritage.

"For me, it's getting back to my roots," Nicholson told CBC's Radio Active Monday. "I'm English, and since we invented the sport, I should know how to play it."

Savneet Kandola and Ena Nicholson talk about the sport's camaraderie and why Edmonton should give cricket a chance. 8:24

Cricket does not have a huge following in Alberta — there are only teams in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray and potentially Lethbridge — but the women's team in Edmonton is hoping to change that.

A few of the athletes from the team were selected to represent Alberta in this year's Canada Day Cup in Toronto. The team has been raising money ever since, collecting bottles and selling chocolates door-to-door.

Savneet Kandola, the women's co-ordinator for the team, is also trying to recruit more women to play.

"Not a lot of people know that women's cricket exists in Canada," Kandola said. "We're trying to spread the word and get more people to just know the sport."

Ena Nicholson (left) and Savneet Kandola (right) play on the Edmonton women's cricket team. (CBC)

Kandola focused on basketball while growing up in India, but she also played cricket. 

She joined the Edmonton women's team three years ago after finishing her collegiate basketball career.

"It was something that I picked up really quick," she said. "Cricket is just my way of having fun, getting to know people and growing it as a sport, not only in Edmonton but also in Canada."

Nicholson or Kandola agreed cricket's welcoming community made them stay.

'The spirit of cricket'

Nicholson said it's easy to advance in the ranks of women's cricket in Canada, considering the sport is just starting to pick up steam.

"People are so willing to teach you when you're playing," she said. "The other team will stop you and say, 'Listen, try this, try that,' just to improve your game.

"It's the spirit of cricket."

Coaching, even from the other team, is common practice in women's cricket, Nicholson says. (Edmonton Women's Cricket/Facebook)

Nicholson has played internationally, travelling as far as Argentina and England where she played with former professional players during Cricket Week.

"I literally cried when I was outfield," she said. "I was so thrilled."

Age doesn't matter

Kandola said she's looking at recruiting players young and old, hoping that more players mean more people learning the sport.

"I am emphasizing on younger people but, honestly, we have a lot of older ladies on our team," she said. "Age, honestly, doesn't matter."

We hear from Savneet Kandola from the Edmonton Women's Cricket team about an upcoming tournament in Toronto. 5:24

Many of the opportunities in the sport aren't possible unless players pay for them from their own pockets so the team is always fundraising.

The team has a GoFundMe page where they are accepting donations and it collects bottles from restaurants.

Annual players fees are $75, making cricket relatively cheap to take up casually, Nicholson said.

"It's great for mothers and daughters to come out," she said. "We need more women to play so we have people to play with."

The Edmonton women's cricket team is always looking to recruit more players. (GoFundMe)