August 21, 2019 6:04 pm

Montreal cricket enthusiasts have reason to celebrate with new field

WATCH: Montrealers who like to play cricket have reason to celebrate. Global's Phil Carpenter reports.

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Cricketers in Montreal now have a new field to call home with at Van Horne Park in Côte-des-Neiges.

The new space, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, is something players and fans have been asking for at least for the last three years.

“Oh, it’s fantastic,” said Subrata Mandal of Cricket Montreal. “It’s one of the best things that happened in the last 10 years.”

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Enthusiasts say the sport is popular among immigrants from British Commonwealth regions like the West Indies, India, Pakistan and Australia. While it has grown in other Canadian cities outside Quebec, they say it has stagnated in Montreal

“In Montreal, it is at a standstill because of the problems for finding suitable grounds for playing cricket,” umpire and former player Rohan Aloisius Weatherspoon explained.

There are more than 50 teams in two leagues in Montreal and they only had six grounds to play on during the summer months.

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However, players point out that’s not enough. If they don’t grow the sport, they’re in danger of losing it because kids who were born in Canada are losing interest.

“It is very difficult,” Weatherspoon told Global News while on a break from officiating a match at the park.

“Most of the kids here in Canada, they’re interested in basketball, soccer, hockey.”

Cricket needs a lot space because of how far the ball can be hit and it could damage property or cause injury so finding suitable space can be challenging, he added.

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Sue Montgomery, borough mayor for Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, says the $65,000 it cost the borough to set up this seventh field is worth the investment.

“It’s very hard but I think it’s an important investment and it’s an important use of space,” she said.

The cricket community hopes it will eventually get more fields in Montreal to keep their cultural tradition alive.

“We need seven more,” Mandal stresses, saying that it’s the only way all the players and others who are interested can be accommodated.

Montgomery claims they will find space for other fields in the borough.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said. “We’ll figure it out.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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