Toronto's Regent Park Youth Set to Conquer Another Sport

16 March 2005

Iftekhar Chowdhury

Regent Park youth dominate every sport at every event. Our youth baseball team is one of the best in the city, and so is our hockey team. But perhaps one of the strongest sports for kids in Regent Park is basketball, where we are considered one of the best city-wide tournament teams in Ontario, if not Canada. Now, youth from the Park are out to dominate another sport that is fairly new to Canada and this community: the name of the game is cricket. With the help of one man, Rajendra Singh, and donations from Regent Park residents, the Park can expect to have one of the best cricket clubs in no time.

Singh is an elementary school teacher but he has more things to do than just teach history. He coaches and organizes the Regent Park Civics Cricket Club, which means he is a very busy man.

Singh's schedule includes coaching the cricket team on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so that they can be in shape and ready for their games on the weekends. When he's not coaching the team, and when the team isn't playing a game, Singh is organizing the cricket league to make sure the schedules are properly set. Since cricket is a very expensive sport, Singh also spends a lot of his time fundraising so that the team has enough money to buy equipment. Singh does everything he needs to do to ensure that Regent Park has a cricket team worthy of playing at the highest level of the game.

The players of the Regent Park Cricket are between the ages of 14 and 18-years-old and they are mostly from Regent Park, as the name of the team would suggest. However, some of the players are from other parts of the Greater Toronto Area. According to Singh, recruiting players from outside of Regent Park was vital to the success of the team.

ŇAt first, practices were for students attending Lord Dufferin, but soon enough, people from Jarvis and Central Technical High School started attending the practices" says Singh. "Even though the team was meant for Regent Park, players from different communities started to join because they did not have their own team or the money to join one. As the summer went on, more people found out about the team and they started showing up for practices. Regent Park is not yet a cricket area, and it was necessary for players from all around the city to come and help out the team."

Singh started playing cricket in his native home of Guyana at the age of 15. He has now been a cricket player for 25 years. Singh says that cricket provides many rewards for members of the team who are newcomers to Canada and played cricket in their homeland.

"Cricket reminds those members who are new to Canada of fond memories of back home," says Singh, "It also gives them the opportunity to play the game. This is very important because there are very few places that offer this kind of thing. It also provides a learning opportunity for those who don't know how to play cricket and it keeps young people busy and off the wrong paths. Cricket keeps their minds focused on something."

In order to keep the team competitive, Singh relies on funding from several sources such as various companies, family members and friends. The Regent Park Cricket has received support and equipment donations from the senior Civics team, a team registered under the Toronto & District Cricket Association. One company, Auto World Imports, donated close to $2000 worth of equipment to the cricket team. Singh's friends and family were able to raise approximately $800 over the summer. The coach and the team are very grateful to everyone who helped out, however they could still use more funding. The money they were able to raise thus far may seem like a lot but when it comes to cricket, money runs out quickly.

As mentioned before, cricket equipment is very expensive. A bat costs between $250-$400, and the team needs a minimum of 4 bats for the season. So, that's about a maximum of $1600 right off the top. The balls, which you have to switch every game, cost $35 each. Therefore with a season of ten games, it costs up to $350 dollars for balls. Then pads, gloves, helmets and guards need to be bought and this runs the team approximately $1,200. Fortunately, good sets of equipment can last for about 5 years.

With all the time and hard work Singh puts into the team, he only wishes for a few things:

"I want to give young people the opportunity I had when I was younger. I want them to be able to enjoy cricket in their youth and when they grow up, teach others about the game.". He adds, "Hopefully one of these guys can represent Canada's national cricket team one day."

Singh is accepting new players on the team and is always open to giving a helping hand or donations. Future plans for the Regent Park Civics include having another youth team so all the players can get more playing time. If you are between the ages of 14 and 21 and are interested in playing for the Regent Park Cricket you can contact Singh at: You can also contact Singh through e-mail if you are interested in donating time, coaching skills or funds to the Regent Park Cricket.

The article was originally published in Toronto's "Catch da Flava" newspaper on Friday, December 19, 2003, and is reproduced with permission. The author was 16 years old when the article was published. received the following message from R. (Ginger) Singh

Regent Park Cricket (as we are now called) started out as Civics/Regent Park Juniors because Civics (the senior team in the T & D) were willing to help us get started. We have since evolved as a result of funding. Sponsors wanted to see that the team was a community based team and so the name had to be changed (I also dropped the 'Club' as it seems too exclusive). We still have an affiliation with Civics. If they are short and need someone, they can count on our juniors.

In our first season, we lost all our matches but the improvement in the youngsters was phenomenal. We gelled and grew as a team within a short period of time. In our second season (last summer) we won 8 games and made it to the quarter final as a third seed. We had Overseas on the ropes but a lack of experience and an ill-timed mis-catch cost us a huge upset. Overseas went on to play in the final.

The youngsters are very committed, devoted and keen. They understand the hard work it takes to get better and to have some success. We often practice on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Sunnybrook. Many of our players often walk in and out of Sunnybrook and use TTC to get to practice and games. At the moment I am the coach, coordinator, fundraiser etc.

Although they are very committed and keen about the game, I am most proud of the fact that the majority of the players on the team could be on any school's honour roll.

After tasting some success last year, the boys are keen to get going this season. They have developed such camaraderie that they badly want me to do something about getting a Colts team so they could be together and compete in the afternoon. I inquired about it but was told that the T&D did not have any grounds. I may check with the Scarborough league.

Of all the challenges, i.e. balancing my family life with the team, funding is the biggest hurdle. We were lucky to get funds from an auto dealership in our first year. They funded a literacy initiative at my school and I asked if they would help me get started. They did. Unfortunately, I lost my contact at that dealership. My family and their employers also chipped in but after two seasons, funds are dwindling and balls are quite pricey. Getting in to the Scarborough league may also be pricey.

One of our proof readers wrote the following:- 2 years ago, I was coaching Ramblers u-19 and we came up agaist the Regent Park boys. I noticed that they were badly outfitted but they played like lions. Natural talent was obvious and so was the desire to play and win. Obviously we should assist them with a Trillium Fund application. (Jon Harris).