Special For Black Press
Inside an unsuspecting strip mall in Surrey, there’s something special taking place. The Canadian National cricket players of tomorrow might just be training.
At least that’s the hope of Khurram Dilshad, owner of the Stallions Cricket Centre (304, 12886 Anvil Way #305, Surrey, BC), who recently announced the start of the centre’s Passionate Cricketers Academy.
Passionate Cricketers Academy and Youth Team officially launched its jersey on Feb. 9, 2020 and is a first-of-its-kind indoor program in the lower mainland for youth’s age five, all the way up to u19.
“Ninety-five percent of the U19 Canadian Cricket team comes from Ontario and we have a dream of one day soon making sure B.C. is well represented on the National Team,” said Dilshad.
In a world crazy about sports, reading this you might be surprised that cricket ranks second among major sports for its popularity. There’s a fanbase of over 2.5 billion, so some of you may not be so surprised.
In Surrey, one of the largest Canadian cricket crazed markets, you would be hard-pressed to find field time, let alone a program to help develop the bowlers of tomorrow. That’s an issue many have sought to fix, including Inamul Desai, vice-president of the BC Mainland Cricket League (BCMCL), who presented in front of City of Surrey Parks, Recreation & Culture Committee.
While two-thirds of all cricketers from British Columbia come from Surrey, there is an inadequate number of fields to meet the demand of the sport being played by competitive teams, let along giving enough field time to properly help develop the youth of tomorrow.
Echoing these sentiments, Dilshad adding that while the most popular version of cricket can take up to six or seven hours to play. That doesn’t leave much field time and puts kids at a disadvantage for learning even the basics, he said.
“When the kids are having to play at 8 a.m. and rush their games to finish before noon (when most competitive games start), the kids end up playing in long grass and it’s very wet out then, not ideal for teaching fundamentals,” Dilshad said.
That’s where the Stallions’ facility comes into play.
Dilshad said the Stallions Cricket Centre not only features pitching machines and some of the best professional coaches to develop players, they’ve even got the ability to bring down the netting and play indoor games. Thus, giving children and young adults the chance to play games indoors and train day or night with the Passionate Cricketers Academy.
That way always the goal of Surrey’s Stallions Cricket Centre. It was dreamed up by Dilshad as a way to bring top-tier training and a year-round facility to the community he joined as a new immigrant in 2012.
“When I first moved here, I went two to three years without playing the sport I grew up with,” said Dilshad.
Much like generations of kids grow up imagining throwing a football like Payton Manning or handling a hockey stick like Gretzky, Dilshad grew up on grassy fields playing cricket from early in the morning until the darkness of night took over.
That’s the passion many parents in Surrey have seen rub off on their children, said Dilshad.
“Cricket is everything for all the kids in South Asia, and now here too, it is very popular and the passion comes from something you see growing up,” he said.
“In our childhood, we used to play day and night and the cricket was everything for us even still it is today,” Dilshad smiled. “So not playing for three years, that was very frustrating and then finally, 2016 I found cricket again.”
Cricket is a sport of patience, the ultimate in sportsmanship and it’s one of the world’s largest sports.
“Most of Canada’s U19 national cricket team comes from Ontario, and yet we have one of the largest cricket communities in Canada here in Surrey and so I hope Passionate Cricketers Academy can give representation and pride to British Columbia and western Canada,” said Dilshad.
Representing Canada is the ultimate goal of any Canadian athlete in any sport. Holding the flag and sharing their pride of sport and country in a test of skill against the best the world has to offer.
Cricket is also a sport of passion and well-timed bowlers playing for pride and honour, but much like hockey’s passion isn’t born in the rink but the ponds and backyards or basements, so too is cricket.
“We’ve built pitches on our backyards, empty fields,” Dilshad laughed, “really anywhere we could, but in the end, we wanted a place to help our children with the game they love too.”
“The facility isn’t a business for us, this is our passion and that’s why we called it the Passionate Cricketers Academy,” he said. “So, it’s from our passion for the Passionates, that’s why the idea is fantastic, and we are working our heart on this just to develop it.”
On any given weekend you’ll find 60-70 kids taking their turns learning to bat and bowl with coaches, including former India U19 star Sarbjeet Singh, who is always found deep in the middle of training a group of batters around the Centre.
“Now the plan is simple. We want to grow the cricket and that’s only if we grow our youth,” Dilshad said. “If we develop our youth, we grow.”
“Western Canada should be represented on team Canada and it starts with Passionate, it starts with proper cricket grounds, like they do in Ontario. We need that here.”
Find out more about Passionate Cricketers Academy and the Stallions at stallionscricket.ca.