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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Migrant workers’ annual cricket match set to go
Bastsman Germain Johnson eyes up a pitch during the Niagara Clippers practice June 4 at Veterans Memorial Park. The team, made up of migrant workers, will play its annual match against Vineland Sunday, June 9. RICHARD WRIGHT

Call it the Stanley Cup of local cricket — it’s being played right here in Niagara-on-the-Lake on June 9.

The Niagara Clippers will take on the Vineland Lions at Veterans Memorial Park in a winner-take-all contest that has been happening here on the second Sunday of June for more than 25 years between rival teams of migrant workers.

Hosted by the Caribbean Workers Outreach Program, it is viewed by players and organizers alike as a friendly social activity that still brings out the competitive spirit in everyone involved.

“It is very competitive,” said Donna Brown, a project co-ordinator with the outreach program.

“You will hear shouting from the sidelines and everyone supporting their team or their best player. They pay very close attention to what is going on. Very serious,” she adds.

Game introduced by the British

While not well-known in Canada, cricket has an intense following in the Caribbean. 

It was first introduced to that region of the world by the British in the early 1800s.

The West Indies cricket team, known as the Westies and made up of players from mainly English-speaking countries in the Caribbean, evolved over the years to become an international powerhouse. 

Here in Niagara, with thousands of temporary workers from the Caribbean arriving each year to work in the agriculture sector, and with help from this annual contest, exposure to the game has increased.

“In the past couple of years we have had over 300 people come out and attend this event,” said Brown.

Both teams, she adds, spend considerable physical and vocal energy preparing for the contest.

“There is a saying here when we are promoting the game that the Clippers are going to clip the hair off the Lions. We have been chirping this for a couple of weeks now.”

Tryouts for the Clippers were held June 3 and 4 in NOTL with over a dozen showing up with the hopes of making the roster, which normally consists of 11 players.

Game time is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 9.

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