Calgary's female cricket team sets sights on growth while fundraising for national tournament
Some of Calgary’s team are headed to compete in Toronto next month
Women's cricket in Calgary, and Alberta, is celebrating a milestone with a provincial team headed to the Canada Day Cup in Toronto next month.
But the provincial team — made up of players from Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray — isn't funded and needs sponsors too.
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"There's been women's cricket in Calgary for about eight to 10 years now," said Omaima Waqar, vice-president of the Alberta Women's Cricket League.
"It started off with us playing against junior boys teams and then we expanded to play inter-city games against the women's team in Edmonton," said Waqar.
Now the team plays games at the provincial level with two tournaments annually and a western tournament with B.C. every year.
The next milestone is the Alberta women's team competing in the Canada Cup in Toronto next month, playing against teams from Canada and the U.S.
The team has set up a GoFundMe page to try and cover some of the costs of the trip.
"The main expenses are things like accommodation, transportation and we've got to pay people to take care of the grounds and get it ready for us and we've got to pay umpires as well," said Waqar.
As well as raising money the Calgary team is also planning for the future, trying to attract more players and grow the women's league in Alberta.
"I was born and brought up in Canada and it reminds me of my roots back home from India," said player Shivalika Katyal.
"My mum was always interested and we'd stay up late and watch games on the TV, then when I went to university and found out there was a women's team I had to join it," said Katyal, who's keen to see other women come and give cricket a try.
"When people come and try it, a lot of them turn out to love it," she said.
"Even if you've never played before and you just want to try it, we have all the equipment here so you don't have to worry about bringing anything, you don't have to bring experience, age or anything."
The majority of players come from Pakistan and India or from families originating in those countries, where cricket is much more popular than in Canada, but the women say anyone is welcome to give it a go.
"Even if you've never held a bat, we can teach you how to do that," Waqar said.
Calgary has cricket pitches at Riley Park and in the northeast at Westwinds Park and in Westwinds itself, as well as two indoor facilities.