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Spencer cricket club provides familiar experience for new Canadians

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With strong immigration to Canada from cricket-mad places like India, the game is expected to appeal to a lot of new students, says the organizer at Spencer Middle School

A cricket program at Spencer Middle School has expanded to include students from other schools, with its sights set on helping new Canadians integrate while developing future cricketers.

The Spencer Cricket Club, which formed last year with a handful of students from Spencer and little in the way of a budget, has grown to include 24 students, including players from other schools.

Teacher James Roy, who organized the club at the Langford school, said the game is starting to catch on, leading to a spirited students-versus-teachers match played at lunch on Wednesday that ended in a draw.

“This was an opportunity to make everyone aware of the sport and give a window of opportunity for my students to have some competition,” said Roy.

Cricket falls fairly low on the school sports ladder — well behind soccer, basketball and volleyball — but Roy has faith that it will continue to grow in popularity.

There are cricket clubs dotted around the Island, but Spencer is believed to be the first public-school-based cricket club.

Roy said with strong immigration to Canada from cricket-mad places such as India, the game is expected to appeal to a lot of new students. The club currently has a mix of new Canadians, students born in Canada, and boys and girls.

Roy, who is from India, sees the benefit of giving new-Canadian students the comfort of playing a sport they know.

“When immigrants come from abroad, I’ve seen that because of the language issues, they’re going into their shell,” he said.

“There might be a Punjabi-speaking or Hindi-speaking or some other nation-speaking student, but when they first come they just stay at home.”

But when they have a chance to play a sport they are familiar with, he said, they will let down their guard, laugh and become more involved.

Spencer principal Jen Nixon said the cricket team was the result of an “organic movement” where students expressed interest and Roy took on a key role in supporting the initiative.

“I love how cricket in our school also speaks to the incredible diversity of cultures of Spencer students,” Nixon said.

“It is a game that is bringing students together from different cultures and who speak multiple languages to learn from each other and play together.”

Roy said cricket is hitting a bit of a high point in Canada, with strong growth at the community level, the men’s national team qualifying for the International Cricket Council’s T20 World Cup — which begins on June 1 and is co-hosted by the West Indies and U.S. — and the sport being included in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

“We thought why not tie it all together — it’s a good time to launch a new sport in the area,” said Roy, who hopes to eventually develop players who could one day compete at the highest levels.

For the time being, however, he is focusing on growing the club’s numbers and developing skills among the players so they can compete with other teams.

Roy said they have been helped out by existing local cricket clubs and there are plans for the Spencer club to eventually play other clubs and schools.

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