Canada’s largest bank woos Indo-Canadians through cricket

February 29th, 2008 - 10:27 am ICT by admin  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Feb 29 (IANS) With the advent of Twenty20, cricket is coming to Canada with a bang. Even as the International Cricket Council (ICC) has accorded Canada “the priority nation” status for promotion of the sport, the country’s largest bank too has adopted the sport to woo the growing Indo-Canadian population. Under its just launched Wicket Cricket programme, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) will provide cricketing facilities - bats, balls, gloves, pads and DVDs - to hundreds of schools which most South Asian students attend

“RBC’s investment in Canadian cricket is aimed at elevating awareness of the sport on all levels with a view to reaching cricket-enthusiasts of all generations,” said Mark Whitmell, director for Cultural Markets at the bank.

“We want to help build this sport in Canada so that cricket fans can feel proud of their association with it, and families from cricket-loving countries can pass on this cherished tradition to their children.

“We feel that the best way to do that is from the ground up, by helping schools and communities respond to kids and their families who are passionate about the game,” he said.

Geared towards students from second to sixth grades, the RBC Wicket Cricket programme will assist physical education teachers and community leaders to introduce students to the basics of the game.

Over 400 schools across Canada, including more than 100 in the Greater Toronto area where more than 60 percent of Indian immigrants live, will benefit from the programme.

“Our support of cricket in Canada is part of our ongoing efforts to build deeper connections with people in ways that are relevant and which reinforce our commitment to multicultural communities,” Whitmell said.

The bank will also launch a website where players and coaches can download training videos, watch cricket drills, and post related community events and photos.

More than 20 percent Indo-Canadians bank with the RBC. The bank also boasts a diverse workforce, with more than 20 percent its staff of coloured people.

Canadian Cricket Association CEO Atul Ahuja welcomed the initiative. He said: “We are aware of many school programmes in Canada. To ensure that cricket is coached the way it should be, we encourage these programmes to work with the Grassroots Development and Schools Programme structure the Canadian Cricket Association (CCA) has in place.”

Indo-Canadians, or people from the Indian subcontinent, number over 700,000 and constitute about three percent of Canada’s population.

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