Growing up in India, Harjit had a keen interest in sports. Like many other kids, he enjoyed watching the game with his family. However, the Cricket World Cup of 1983 proved to be a game changer for him; the win totally changed his outlook towards the game. He started watching and enjoying the game and even went on to join his school cricket team. That was the start of his journey into the game of cricket. Almost 3 decades later, Harjit Sandhu is the President of the British Columbia Mainland Cricket League.

We caught up with him for a tête-à-tête and asked him about his journey from a kid who loved cricket to a man who is heading such a prestigious organisation dedicated to the game. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Q. How did you end up joining the league as BCMCL?

As soon as I migrated to Canada, I found out about BCMCL, which was already into existence since 1913. Because of my passion for the game, I joined BCMCL in 2004. From the very next year I started playing and in 2006, I started volunteering for the role of an umpire. Soon, I got really involved in helping, assisting, managing and arranging dif- ferent events.

Q. How do you feel to see the engagement of people in the federation?

Is it just for the kids? What is the process of funding? Sports is for everyone to keep them fit physically and mentally. It not just kids but also, we have peo- ple from older age groups. We have players from age 10 to age 60-65 years. It feels great to have people watching and playing cricket. We do have different divisions according to their game i.e. Elite, Premier, than 1st to 8th. As your game becomes better, you can keep on graduating from one divi- sion to another. We are a non-profit organisation and we all volunteer. We have very dedicated vol- unteers and their passion for cricket and to serve community drive them to keep giving their time for betterment of BCMCL. At present, we are a total of 90 along with teams and various clubs. The fee from the memberships and registrations is used to cover the expenses. The players make their pay- ments to the club, which then is given to BCMCL.

Q. What is the composition of players like?

We promote a multicultural environment. There are players from different ethnicities and cultures. Players from all cricket playing countrires such as Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, West Indies and India etc. are a part of the leauge. It is to note that if you are playing locally in BC, your status i.e. on which permit you are in Canada doesn’t matter but when you are to represent Canada, you must be a permanent resident. Also, if you are to compete out of BC, then you must been living in BC for 3 years no matter on which permit you are.

Q. What are the challenges been faced to group the community together?

It isn’t easy to manage such a big community as BCMCL. It is multi-cultural community and we do have to deal with different personalities. Same as any big organization, we face some same chal- lenges as any other big organizations when we try to group together big community. As it is usual in every community, we do have few people who will take positions only to just boss up, satisfy their own ego or interest and not really work for community. We do have some loopholes in our very old consti- tution which allows it, but we are blessed to have a group of good people who have worked tirelessly in order to grow as one. In 2005, we were around 30 and plus teams and since then now we are 90 and plus teams along with a Junior kid programs and women’s team. It is all made possible due to all different ethnicity coming together and working as a team to build strong BCMCL community.

Q. What are the impediments faced due to the extreme weather conditions?

Our season starts in March and ends in a September. During summer season, we do have lots of cricket with Pre-season T20 (March/April), Regular season (April to September) and lots of special events as T10, Mid Week T20, Six a Side, and Big Bash. Winter is tuogh for us with weather and BCMCL doesn’t do anything in winters, however it’s the individual clubs does it on their behalf to stay in shape and touch of the game. Last year we had the first Cricket academy opened up (Stallion Cricket Academy) and it is a huge boost for players to stay in shape during winter. Before players were using ice hockey rings, basketball courts in any sunny days (sadly not many in winter), however now with the academy, they can book proper cricket facil- ity to practice during winter. As the management, when it is down time, we keep looking for new grounds, start scheduling and planning beforehand and getting permits, and try to regroup for next season.

Q. How can a person join the cricket league?

To join, a person must register with BCMCL and may contact any of the concerned people in any club. One can also visit the website www.cricclubs. com/bcmcl ( or www.bcmcl.ca ) to register and even get in touch through the social media outlets.

Q. What is your message to the budding cricket- ers and the community?

Every sport plays a major role in our life and keeps us fit, in shape physically and even increases focus mentally. It’s a good way to be productive in your free time. It also helps to build a community of like-minded people. They say that in order to achieve success, one has to climb the ladder of life one step at a time. Any deviations can take you away from stepping further. This applies to the game as well. If you want to build your innings, you must focus, and if you lose your concentration just for a second, you may lose your wicket. Life has to many distractions to lose our concentration, our goal is to keep youth in grounds, keep a focus on sports, and education to become better citizens for our community/country.

At end just want to say that it is great to see some great events like Big bash and Global T20 in Canada, where players like Yuvarj, Chris Gayal, Steve Smith, Warner, Williamson, are playing along- side our own Canadian players. It will help boost up cricket in Canada to even higher level. It is great opportunity for our youngsters to play and learn and would like to see more and more players from BC, qualifying and playing in Global T20 and even IPL in future. He signed off!

Navjeet Nijjhar

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