Bringing cricket from India to SFU

Ekamjot Singh Deol brings SFU and its “cricket enthusiasts” one step closer to the sport by establishing the SFU Cricket Club.

Photo courtesy of Ekamjot Singh Deol

By: Anindita Gupta 

Fast Facts

  • Name: Ekamjot Singh Deol
  • Pronouns: He / Him / His
  • Department Affiliation: Criminology
  • Birthplace: Punjab, India
  • Fun Fact: Ekamjot’s favourite cricketer is Bhuveneshwar Kumar, because of his talent on the field, his caring and calm personality off of it, as well as all of his charitable work.

Cricket is a lesser known sport in North America. But after being spread widely over the world by the British monarchy, it is now played competitively and loved in over 125 countries. Under the International Cricket Council (ICC) stand nations and groups of islands, ranging from India to the West Indies.

At SFU, some know of this sport from back home, or have heard about it from friends who come from cricket-playing countries. But if anyone was interested to learn about and play the sport, they did not have an opportunity… until now!

Ekamjot Singh Deol brings SFU and its cricket enthusiasts one step closer to the sport by establishing the SFU Cricket Club. Registered as a sports interest club under the SFSS, the cricket club is here to cater to anyone with any interests related to cricket.

Ekamjot explains cricket for those who may be unfamiliar with it: “A contest between the bat and the ball, with two teams of 11, and the team scoring more runs wins.” If someone has ever explained it to you by saying it is similar to baseball, he warns you to not fall for this, as it “certainly is not!”

Ekamjot is a second-year international student from Punjab, India, studying criminology at SFU. Before coming to Canada as a student, Ekamjot played cricket professionally at a district level. (Cricket in India is played at various levels: district, state, playing for clubs or leagues, and national teams.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get the opportunity to continue professionally in Canada. However, he has had the idea of launching a club dedicated to cricket ever since he got here, and the idea finally became a reality this semester.

“I have finally found a way to carry out my passion,” Ekamjot says, gleaming with excitement and hope for his new club.

His first memory of the sport is from the tender age of 5, when India played Australia in the 2003 ICC World Cup final. Though India lost the match, his intrigue and love for the sport grew, and has remained with him ever since. He is an ardent fan of the sport, and although he speaks about it extremely passionately, he has immense patience to explain the terminology and the rules of cricket to anyone interested.

Not only is Ekamjot passionate about the sport, but he is also full of insight on the most interesting and unknown trivia about many of the players. For example, did you know the reason why the world-renowned Sourav Ganguly is a left-handed batsman in the first place? Ekamjot tells me that it is because Ganguly’s older brother was left-handed, and he grew up practicing with his brother’s equipment. He went on to become a left-handed cricketer and a legend.

“I try and look for the small things that people don’t know to get my motivation from, because the next time I think ‘I’m in big trouble and this situation cannot be turned around,’ I think about Sourav Ganguly’s left-handedness and get my motivation,” he says.

Considering that he had been a student at SFU for two years, we were interested in finding out why he hadn’t started the club any earlier. Just like any student, he was busy juggling his undergraduate career and a part-time job, and had never thought that he could give a club enough time and attention. He was also unsure of whether or not he would be able to reach out to a large enough audience.

Now, Ekamjot recalls startling crowds gathered to watch cricket matches live-streamed by clubs, and spotting students playing cricket with makeshift bats and tennis balls near the residences.

“I realized that people do want to play, they just don’t have the platform to. Here, they may not have more people and equipment. This motivated me and I thought: let’s create a club for those 400 people that were there for the screening of the match one time in the year. If even 40 of them can come to our events all year round, we can be successful.”

His other concern was that the club-creating process would be rather demanding and complicated. But that wasn’t the case at all, he recalls: “The SFSS is so supportive, you don’t necessarily have to work a lot!”

All one needs to do is talk about the club idea with the SFSS and discuss the kinds of budgeting and finances you may need for upcoming events, do an online Canvas course on SFSS and how to run a club, and voilà — with the starting number of 10 undergraduate students, your club is official! More information can be found on the SFSS website, under the ‘Clubs and SUS’ tab.

Currently, though they have yet to advertise widely, the club already has over 30 members, including its three first executive officials: Ekamjot as president, Kanav Ahuja as executive secretary, and Dhawal Gupta as the club’s treasurer. They aim to include more people in the executive team as the club grows.

What Ekamjot hopes to see from this club is a higher intake of domestic and international students alike, who know cricket or are excited to learn about the sport. As president of the club, he seems to have his priorities figured out. He has four primary objectives for this club: to focus on those “who want to know more about the game, who want to talk about the game, [. . .] play the game, and watch the game.”

Ekamjot also insisted that: “an integral part of this club is raising awareness and making sure people know about the game.” In the near future, they plan to host a few social events to increase people’s knowledge about cricket and its technicalities.

Aside from serious, educative sessions like “Cricket 101” or ball-tampering crash courses, the creative club members are also planning to arrange games like “cric-tionary” and “cric-charades” to help club members learn and teach cricket terminology. They also aim to hold tournaments, but can only do so after signing a waiver with the SFSS. Nonetheless, this remains one of their more serious agendas to cover before summer ends, so cricket can be played outdoors. They aim to collaborate with the Indian Student Federation (ISF) to arrange, play, and hopefully screen future cricket matches.

Eventually, he would like for the club to become a sports club under SFU Recreations, and possibly, have a team that represents the university.

“That’s the dream!” Ekamjot says. “Hopefully, we will achieve it in my undergrad life. But even if [we do] not, as an SFU alumni, I’d be very happy to come and watch the SFU cricket club play, and have a sigh of happiness, seeing that it all started as a ‘sports interest’ club with only 10 people in it. That’s a long-term goal.”