Elisha Prophet Steele is ready to bring the thunder Sunday as the Niagara-on-the-Lake cricket team, the Clippers, prepares to face the Vineland Lions.
“OK, Vineland, I would like to see you show up on the 12th for a nice game. But remember, I’m not an easy character,” Steele said in an interview on Monday.
NOTL hosts the match this year, at Memorial Park on King Street.
Steele is NOTL’s team captain and cricket is in his blood.
A native of Jamaica, he has played the sport since he was a child as, next to soccer, it is one of Jamaica’s most beloved sporting pastimes.
Steele has an affable, relaxed demeanour and had lots of kind words to say about NOTL and the people he meets here as he took a brief respite from working at Parkway Orchards.
But when it comes to cricket, Steele has a much more serious attitude.
And there is only one game each year in Niagara.
“I like to win,” Steele said.
“I’m not going here to lose, I’m going here to win. That’s my intention.”
Steele knows that, as team captain and coach, if victory is not secured then the blame will be on his shoulders.
“I decide who I should use to play. Because at the end of the day, if the team loses, everybody looks at the captain and asks why,” he said with a laugh.
He makes sure he’s choosing the best of the best for the team.
“I do training and I see the guys who are fit to play. If they can pass my physical test then they can make the team. This is not a friend game,” Steele said with a smile that belied his words.
The cricket game is organized by the Caribbean Workers Outreach Program and GateWay Community Church. The program operates in NOTL and Vineland, hence the yearly match between temporary farm workers from both areas.
Steele has been the captain and coach of the NOTL Clippers for 26 years.
He’s been coming to the region to work that entire time and says his boss, Walter Gaio, is a great employer.
Steele also expressed his appreciation for the Caribbean Workers Outreach Program and Nancy King.
Working with GateWay Community Church and being able to attend Sunday service there has been an important part of his time in NOTL.
“It’s very nice to go to church on a Sunday night. It really can make something new happen in your life,” he said.
“You meet some new people, nice people to deal with, and you can speak about God also. I’m really enjoying going to church here.”
Cricket may not be the most popular sport in Canada, but the country’s nature as a diverse land has seen its popularity grow in recent years.
Steele pointed out that new Canadians, immigrants from places such as India, Pakistan and the Caribbean islands, are giving the sport new life.
“In Jamaica, cricket is an international sport. Jamaica has produced some really great cricketers, for example someone like Chris Gayle.”
“In Jamaica, we watch cricket a lot. It is a very fantastic game in Jamaica.”
“I’ve been playing cricket all my life. I started when I was like seven years old. When I was 17 I played internationally, for the bigger games,” Steele said.
In his 26 years as coach and captain for the NOTL Clippers, Steele boasts an impressive record: his teams have only lost two games.
His players have only three nights to practise before the sole official game they will play all summer. But it seems that, with Steele at the helm and his track record, three practices might be enough.
Steele is involved with sports organization’s back home in Jamaica as well. He was sporting a Jamaica soccer jersey when he was interviewed by The Lake Report.
Steele said he coaches a 13-and-up team in his home region of Trelawny. He also collects soccer balls while he is in Canada to bring home to the kids in his town.
“Overall, I’m a sports co-ordinator. Anything sport, that’s in my field,” he said.
Steele said he has always enjoyed working in NOTL.
“I love my job. I take it as a hobby. When I’m working it’s like I’m playing a game. It doesn’t come hard to me,” he said.
Steele is also a musician and produces his own tracks and works as a DJ.
One of Steele’s good friends, Horace Hines, a journalist with the Jamaica Observer, had some kind words about his long-time friend.
“He’s a sportsman, an avid sportsman who plays cricket very well,” Hines said in an interview.
He also celebrated Steele’s dedication to music.
“Music is one of the things that, throughout the years, through the good times and the bad, has kept us afloat,” he said.
He said Steele is a great coach “who inspires the players a lot. Because of his easy-going style he gets along with the players well.”
Hines shared Steele’s sentiment about winning.
“We don’t like to lose.”
The cricket match will be held on Sunday, June 12, at 2 p.m. at Memorial Park.
There will be free refreshments and food for those in attendance. The food is provided by one of the game’s sponsors, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc.
Steele said people should try to arrive at the park around 2 p.m., but that the game will most likely start a little later.