Calgary

Calgary's female cricket team sets sights on growth while fundraising for national tournament

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.

Some of Calgary’s team are headed to compete in Toronto next month

Some members of Calgary’s women’s cricket team practice at Riley Park ahead of a tournament in Toronto next month. The team is looking to raise money for the provincial team and recruit some new members in Calgary. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

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.

"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.

Omaima Waqr is vice-president of the Alberta Women’s Cricket League. She says women from all backgrounds can come and give the sport a try. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

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.

Cricket is cheap to play but tournaments and taking a team to the next level can be expensive, with players having to cover all costs from their own pockets. The Alberta team is hoping to attract sponsors and raise money to fund next month’s trip to the Canada Day Cup. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

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."

Shivalika Katyal has been playing cricket in Calgary for nine seasons and says the sport connects her to her Indian roots. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

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.

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About the Author

Dan McGarvey

Journalist

Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist covering all kinds of stories from northeast Calgary for web, radio, TV and social media, using only an iPhone and mobile tech. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at: dan.mcgarvey@cbc.ca or tweet him @DanMcGarvey