By: Blake Blondeel
When the University of Windsor first took the decision to break ground on a new athletics facility it was based on the deficiencies in the current one. Moving forward, it made sure to take into account the entire student body before a shovel hit the ground.
The first phase of the project was to conduct focus groups in order to obtain a list of students wants and needs. A list of priorities and a conceptual drawing followed. And finally, a referendum which 64 percent of the student body voted in favour for the new $73 million project.
One of the things that stood out amongst others on that list was the suggested cricket pitch.
This is in large part due to the 17 percent of international students who make up the university’s population.
“There’s always room for us to consider growing or emerging our sports, certainly on our campus and across the province. Cricket has been around for a long time, but with the influx of visa students and influx of immigrants into the province, I think it’s gaining traction. Who knows, maybe someday OUA cricket will be a sport,” stated Mike Havey, the University’s athletics director.
According to the OUA policy website for sanctioning of a new competitive level sport, the sport must provide documentation, follow the guiding principles and application regulations for sanctioning. Applications will be reviewed by the OUA Sports Committee with a presentation to the Board of Directors for approval at the annual general meeting. Approval will include a two (2) year probationary period. After the completion of the probationary period, the OUA Sports Committee will make a recommendation to the Management Committee whether to extend the probationary period, promote the sport to full status, or delete the sport from the OUA sports offering.
This wouldn’t be the university’s first attempt at sanctioning a new competitive level sport.
The men’s baseball team participated in an organization called Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association (CIBA) and when they collapsed they became part of the National Collegiate Baseball Association (NCBA) which is an organization of varsity clubs at various United States (U.S) universities.
On campus right now, there is a loosely organized cricket club. They are not sanctioned but run under the guidance of the Graduate Student Society (GSS) and University of Windsor Student Alliance (UWSA).
This past summer President of the GSS Amin Safaei ran a club organized cricket tournament.
“With such a high interest from the students on campus we wanted to get people excited about what’s in store for the future with a tournament,” said Safaei. “We had a well-represented turn out and it was fun to teach the game to people who aren’t familiar with the sport.”
From a university’s perspective, including sports that other cultures play aids the multicultural theme that Canada is known for. Sport is a reputation variable within Canada and there’s an aspect of enrollment management that comes along with that. At Windsor specifically, as mentioned 17 percent of the population is international. If a sport like cricket gets added, it will appease the current students and possibly interest more international students, a monetary win for the University.
“Sport can impact the reputation of the university both positively and negatively. We try to do the best we can to make sure our teams on the field are competitive and from a conduct of behaviour perspective are good representatives of us.”
Havey continued, “The other reasons running beyond reputation is that it’s a way to attract a different niche or market to your university so there’s an aspect of enrollment management that becomes a factor in terms of decisions about whether or not to retain, start, or cut university sport. Our argument would be for many sports we’re attracting many students to the University of Windsor that otherwise probably would not have come here.”
Canada prides itself on diversity, equity and international student enrollment, which will only continue to grow over time. With the new building in architectural hands, currently, the university fields 17 athletic teams that compete for provincial and national championships. This is where the opportunity may lie for number 18.
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