Kyle Drinnan, Sports Reporter
Nauman Zafar, Humber’s extramural cricket team captain, is leading the charge to grow cricket at a post-secondary level.
Canada’s biggest sport is hockey. The country has grown an appreciation for basketball and tennis. Other sports like soccer is growing by leaps and bounds.
However, many would be surprised that cricket is also growing in Canada. While most of Canada’s popular sports get to enjoy a post-secondary form of competition in university sports or at the college level, cricket has been slowly building on both levels.
Athletes like Zafar isn’t letting anything get in his way for his dream of looking at cricket as a popular sport in Canada.
“We are becoming better in the world. We may not be at the level now but give the country 10 years and we will be competing at the top or close to it,” he said.
Zafar came to Canada from Pakistan in 2014 and studied at Humber in 2017.
He acquired his love for cricket from his home country and even with the lack of cricket attention here, that didn’t stop him to become a leader with his peers to grow the game in Canada.
What Zafar was looking for came in the form of Canadian College Cricket. The organization took the lead five years ago and hosted its first tournament between colleges and universities.
Humber’s cricket team recently won the 5th National Cricket Championship against Carlton University earlier in the year.
Zafar has credited his teammates and coaching for the win, but also credited Ray Chateau, director of Athletics, for his continued support of the team.
Humber has also produced talent for the national cricket team, including wicketkeeper Srimantha Wijeratne.
Even as cricket grows, there are still some roadblocks in its path.
The sport isn’t a varsity sport in the OCAA for a few reasons.
“There are two main reasons the sport is not in OCAA, one is financial reasons, and the second is the lack of women’s play,” Chateau said. “Cricket is a very male dominated sport.”
The inaugural Canadian Cricket College Women’s National Championship happened earlier this year with Wilfrid Laurier taking the first crown.
Zafar is comfortable with Canadian College Cricket being the head of post-secondary cricket in Canada.
“Canadian College Cricket is already doing a great job with cricket. I believe they understand what needs to be done to make the sport bigger,” Zafar said.
Canada is starting to warm up to the idea of cricket. The Global T20 series, a cricket tournament played by some of the top players in the world, introduced Canadians to the sport two years ago and it continues to be held.
But for now, Zafar is focusing on the next game.
“We are going to play in New York for another tournament soon with a lot of American colleges,” he said. “We are going to take over the continent.”