The Niagara Clippers stepped up to bat against the Vineland Lions once again this year — and they came out victorious.
They beat the Lions 55-54 during the annual farmworkers cricket competition on Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park.
“We won it in fine style,” Clippers coach Elisha Prophet Steele told The Lake Report Sunday evening.
Before the game, Steele wasn’t afraid to say he was nervous, saying it could be “anybody’s game.”
He’s been with the Niagara Clippers for 28 years and has only lost two games. Sunday’s game marked the team’s 26th win.
In total, the game lasted for three hours and 20 minutes, typical for a T20 match (a shortened version of a multi-day game).
Workers from Tregunno Fruit Farms, including Duan Dallkins, Eswill Deane, Dennis Scarlette and Wayne Vincent, are on the Niagara Clippers and were excited about the match.
“You get to enjoy yourself,” said Dallkins, who has been coming to work in Canada for six years.
They all agreed cricket brings people together.
“It’s a gentleman’s game, less confrontation,” said Vincent, who has been coming to Canada for 23 years.
Cricket is a popular sport back in Jamaica and many players on the Niagara Clippers have been playing the sport most of their lives.
“It’s very important to the culture, so it’s nice that we can do this for the guys,” said Donna Brown, chair for the Caribbean Workers Outreach Program.
Dozens of farmworkers from farms across Niagara watched the game alongside members of the community.
The annual cricket match is a way for workers to “connect with the sport that they love” and “show off in the community as well,” said Brown.
She believes it is important for members of the community to be able to come and watch the game, learn about it and celebrate with the workers.
“(There’s) nothing like sports bringing people together in a friendly way,” said Coun. Gary Burroughs.
There’s also some healthy competition, said Burroughs, but for the most part, it’s about getting people together.
Azziz Anjum owns a series of Baskin-Robins and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen stores in St. Catharines and Welland. Both companies sponsored the match and provided food and uniforms for both teams.
It’s important to give back to the community, said Waseem Mobashar, who was at the game representing Anjum.
“Sports are very important in terms of being active, and especially after COVID things were kind of gloomy. It’s very important that we support them,” said Mobashar.
NTwyne, a group that advocates for minority cultures in Niagara, also sponsored some of the prizes at the game.
The match is organized by the Caribbean Workers Outreach Program in collaboration with GateWay Community Church. People from Gateway, NTwyne and Niagara Folk Arts volunteered at the match.
The Caribbean Workers Outreach Program is interested in connecting with sponsors who can help bring functions like the cricket match to life, Brown said.
“We’re always looking for people who can support us as an organization so we can continue to do this.”