Two years ago, there were six people at training and the future was not looking good for Royal Park Brunswick Cricket Club (RPBCC).
Cricket Australia statistics show there was a 12 per cent increase in multicultural players last season
Royal Park Brunswick Cricket Club has enjoyed a surge in player numbers, reflecting a demographic change
The growth in the number of South Asian players has helped strengthen the culture at clubs such as Carlisle Park
RPBCC president Rhys Contessa said the club in Melbourne’s inner-north needed to turn around its fortunes quickly.
“We were on the verge of dropping down to two sides and once you drop below that three-side figure I reckon it spells the end for your club,” Contessa said.
The club’s few South Asian players tapped into their networks and brought in an influx of players, who now make up nearly half the playing group.
“It’s breathed new life into the club. We’ve seen a huge increase of players over the last two to three years and it’s allowed the club to thrive rather than survive,” Contessa said.
The demographic change is happening across the country.
Cricket Australia statistics show there was a 12 per cent increase in multicultural players last season, with the majority of those South Asian cricketers.
RPBCC player Aniket Gupta said the increase had also brought cultural changes.
“I don’t eat beef so whenever we have a barbeque I have to make sure there’s pork, beef or vegetable patties and there’s always something there, it’s always accommodated for,” he said.
Carlisle Park Cricket Club in Melbourne’s outer south-east experienced its own growth of South Asian players over the last four years.
They make up 70 per cent of the side’s six senior teams and are behind a doubling of the club’s junior numbers last season.
Carlisle Park Cricket Club president Aaron Straughair said the growth in the number of South Asian players had a major impact.
“You associate sporting clubs with a big-drinking culture but with some of the player’s backgrounds they can’t drink because of their religion, so we’ve sort of put to the back of everyone else’s mind and just become focused more on family,” Straughair said.
Straughair said the club initially lost income from lack of bar sales but had since made up for that by coming up with new fundraisers.
“Our Christmas party, we’ve turned that into our food of the world night, so everyone brings a plate of food from their background, culture and I enjoy it because it’s the only time you can fill up your plate of food and no one judges you,” he said.
Coach Prabath Fonseka said players had also learnt a few words of Sinhalese and taken up some Indian games.
“I guess its more about joking around, some words I obviously can’t repeat here, but otherwise phrases ‘like how are you?’ in Sinhalese, things like ‘hit the ball’, ‘go for it’, stuff like that,” he said.
“We also play an Indian game called Carrom, it’s a board game so we still hang around the club, have a bite, have a soft drink and go from there.”
Peter Lusted plays for Royal Park Brunswick Cricket Club.