Recreation Corner - Decade of cricket helps students find a fit on campus

Due to its popularity around the world - including countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as Australia, New Zealand and many southern African countries - cricket tends to attract a lot of international students and new Canadians.

In 1867, Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, declared cricket to be the nation’s official sport. Although it may have lost a lot of public recognition in Canada since those days, the sport has taken root throughout the world, particularly in the United Kingdom and commonwealth countries.

Cricket was invented more than 300 years ago by shepherds in England’s countryside. It is a team sport played with a bat and ball, in which two sides with eleven players each compete on an oval grass field. One team ‘bowls’ while the other ‘bats’ and each side works to prevent the other from scoring ‘runs’ by hitting the ball against solid target structures called ‘wickets.’

At Fanshawe, the game has become a staple among Campus Recreation offerings since it was introduced in 2013.

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“Prior to 2013, cricket had never been a popular sport at Fanshawe and not many knew what this game is all about,” explained alumnus Jignesh Rawal (project management, ‘14; logistics and supply chain management, ‘15), who has played cricket since childhood and appreciates how the sport can help connect people. “Coming from India, cricket is such a part of our culture in most parts of the country. It is almost an emotion of its own for us and feels organically inherited into us.”

Due to its popularity around the world – including countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as Australia, New Zealand and many southern African countries – cricket tends to attract a lot of international students and new Canadians. These newcomers may face challenges related to culture shock, such as social isolation, financial hardship and anxiety. Rawal and others, like athletics officer Jackie Corby, saw an opportunity to help ease that homesickness and provide students a way to cope with their struggles in an unfamiliar environment. Together, they set up the College’s first extramural cricket team for students.

“I was very fortunate during my time that I got an opportunity from Jackie to lead the first-ever Men’s Cricket team as head coach,” Rawal said. “That’s one of my proudest achievements to date, to be a part of that first story, that root of cricket within Fanshawe where international students could come and directly feel that this school is a place where they can belong in this new country.”

Like any team sport, cricket reinforces concepts like co-operation, respect, self-discipline and camaraderie, which are all crucial for successful teamwork. It also provides opportunities to hone leadership skills. However, its main value at Fanshawe is the exposure it provides to new experiences for students seeking a low-pressure way to meet others and feel more at home outside the classroom.

“Fanshawe’s Campus Recreation is one of the best programs in the school, which I could recommend to any student who wants to enjoy their time apart from studies,” Rawal noted. “It is a really great way for students to get involved in so many activities, enhance their skills and build self confidence while learning for their future endeavors.”

Jomon Augustian, a graduate of the developmental services worker program (2019) who played cricket at Fanshawe from 2017 to 2019, agrees with that sentiment.

“The Fanshawe college cricket program has contributed a lot to my personal life. It helped me to make a great connection with lots of wonderful people,” he said. “I met my best friends in my life through playing cricket at Fanshawe. I am so happy that I am in connection with all of them, and still we play together or against each other even now.”

Augustian progressed from team member to captain, and then to assistant coach after completing his program, the year Fanshawe won its first extramural cricket tournament victory.

“Being the captain of the cricket team and then serving as an assistant coach for the team after my graduation are my proudest memories from my time with Fanshawe Campus Recreation,” he said.

“I think I spent more time at the gym playing cricket than spending time in class,” he joked. “It helped me to improve my skills, and a few clubs noticed my talent so I got many opportunities outside of college.”

Augustian is currently the captain of the London Sports Club’s cricket programming, and encouraged others to get involved and see where it may lead them.

“Don’t miss the opportunities provided for you there,” he said. “College life is not just about studies. Go out and explore all you’ve got at Fanshawe, especially the recreation programming. It will teach you a lot of values, plus you could enjoy some of the best moments or meet the best people of your life!”

Contributed by Fanshawe College Athletics and Recreation