Saturday, January 23, 2021

Community cricket

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A local club is doing wonders for the sports needs of Melbourne’s Indian community

For 35-year-old cricket tragic Himanshu Topal, the game has been an integral part of his day-to-day life.
“I’ve played the game for thirty years,” he says. “When I moved to Australia five years ago, my local sports club gave me the opportunity to remain connected with cricket.”
Himanshu spends his summers playing with the Williams Landing Sports Club (WLSC).
It’s a sports club with a slight difference. Most of the members of this club are Indian Australians living in the Wyndham area. United by their shared love for the game of cricket, these migrants are endeavouring to connect the Indian community in this region with the broader Australian community.
Wyndham area is in a phase of exponential growth, and typically, such growth is accompanied by organic initiatives by the local residents to set up organisations to achieve social harmony, health improvement, charitable satisfaction etc. The WLSC is one such not-for-profit.
Community.Indian Link
Simran Dhamija, founding member and the current Secretary of the WLSC, says, “The seed for this club germinated in 2013. Our objective is to cater for the sports and recreational needs of the ever growing Wyndham community.”
The journey to transform WLSC from concept to an operational reality required effort on the part of the pioneering working committee of three mates, Gagan Sethi, Simran Dhamija and Puneet Malhotra.
“We approached Wyndham Council, Cricket Victoria, and Williamstown Districts Cricket Association, all of whom provided tremendous support and encouragement,” Simran reveals. “Under their guidance, the next steps were to attract members – juniors and seniors, arrange the facilities, equipment, and sponsorships, and form a working model to operate within. We had tremendous support from the local council who were our guide at every step. They were our biggest collaborators. The financial support came from sponsors.”
After three months of planning and implementation, WLSC was ready to go just as the 2013-2014 cricket season took off.
Community.Indian Link
There is a distinct Indian flavour to the club and its members. Hindi and Punjabi conversations can be over heard in abundance. But the aspiration of the WLSC is to be an integral part of the “Australian community”, and to reach out to the locals through the game. It emphasises the need to be secular, welcoming and inclusive.
Cricket seems to be a great way for this mob to convey their passion and community spirit. It’s the national sport in Australia and the unofficial ‘religion’ in India. Often, families of club members converge at the oval after a game of cricket and revel in a spirit of brotherhood and unity.
WLSC is a registered club and is affiliated with the Williamstown District Cricket Association and Western Churches. It is also registered with ‘mycricket’ (an online arm of Cricket Australia).
Community.Indian Link
“No one in the club charges a fee,” Simran reveals. “The management committee is well structured and follow a rigorous discipline towards administration and finances of the club. We find that most members are happy to step up and help when required. It’s a family atmosphere.”
Indeed, amidst all the activity and energy, the WLSC seems like an oasis of harmony and goodwill.
“Playing cricket for WLSC, I feel a sense of sincere sportsmanship,” 29-year-old Manny observes. “The club works hard to bring out the young local talent. I gladly call myself a WLSC Marshall”.
Check out the club at wlsc.com.au

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Sanam Sharma
A typical middle class guy who is abundantly opinionated, moderately flawed, and adequately grounded

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