Park Spoor Noord will have a cricket training ground in the form of four consecutive training cages, each 28 meters long and fully fenced. Speculators can perform their hardest hits without injuring or disturbing other park visitors. Construction begins next week. The new infrastructure, the first of its kind in a public park, will open next month. “This is worth celebrating. We hope this will allow more youngsters to move to the real clubs,” says Abderrachid Karim Dostekhel, somewhat of a cricket teacher at Spoor Nord.
Cricket fans have enjoyed themselves for years on the large lawn near the Viséstraat. Often they bring love for this “second biggest sport in the world” from their homeland: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan or India. The training cages that a contractor from Essen will now build give cricket a more formal touch, which can also attract park walkers. Just to be clear: Spoor Noord won’t get a full ‘land’, you’ll need the entire park for that: an official game is usually played over an area equal to 2.5 football fields.
Small tournaments have already been held at Spoor Noord. The creator of this, who is also a player on our national team and a strong holder of Beveren Cricket Club, is Abdul Rashid Karim Dostikhil (30). When the weather is nice – because cricket is a true summer sport – it can be found on the “court” almost every day. “As part of Antwerp’s Citizen Budget, I introduced a project in 2017 that gives young people the opportunity to integrate through this sport, with the help of a few tournaments and events. Be active, socialize, and take responsibility. That’s what it’s all about,” says Abdulrashid. , who works at Vidasil as the group’s supervisor.
The nonprofit Kras helped ensure that he reached out to young people and started the project. It is no coincidence that many of the Afghan refugees are the target group, complemented by people who live in the vast vicinity of the park. “They sometimes step up to the big teams in our country, but that’s definitely not the most important thing.”
Cricket, which is similar to baseball with flat fights and has rules complete from the Bible, is big in England, Australia and New Zealand. But it’s really a matter of state in countries like India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The United Kingdom spread this sport in the Commonwealth countries, but strangely enough, Flemish weavers brought the sport to England in the late Middle Ages. Recent historical research has shown this. So you could argue that with this investment – the region spends €93,000 on these batting cages – cricket is somewhat coming home again.
On a competitive level, Belgium has 2,500 officially affiliated players, in various forms of cricket, spread across more than eighteen clubs. Antwerp has two complete fields: the Antwerp Cricket Club field (a club that has existed since 1892 and once played at Wilrijkse Pleinen) in Nachtegalenpark, and the Antwerp Indian Cricket Club in Jaintempel in Wilrijk. I also secretly dream of an entire location in the North. I see a place for this in Slachthuislaan, in the newly developed urban area around the rink,” Abdul Rashid is looking forward. He really wants to make cricket big with us, just like in the rest of the world.
But first the practice cages at the Viséstraat. They will be located where the volleyball court is now. The current volleyball court is moving and will be located between the basketball court and the cages. The location of the basketball court will remain the same. “We have neighborhood coaches and a sports infrastructure. Spark is close by, too,” says county council member Charlie Van Lovell (N-VA), (N-VA). So we are confident that commissioning will go smoothly. The idea was already in place during the previous legislature, but we can now really answer the question of players and locals. I’m also curious about the opening, and would love to see the players themselves in full action. Let’s hope the weather isn’t too bad, because that might delay construction a little bit.”