Tigers Sporting Club: A Journey Through a Road Less Ordinary
[English Text only]
Fittingly perhaps, it was bright red industrial strength tape and a forest green tennis ball that heralded the start of what today has come to fruition as the Tigers Sporting Club, * the first Sporting Club created by the Bangladeshi community in Canberra.
As any Bangladeshi worth their salt will be able to tell you, taped-tennis cricket is a sport that owes its innate traditions to cricket played in the narrow alleyway’s of the hustle and bustle of the crowded Dhaka where we all once dreamed of being the next big cricket star.
And so like all Bangladeshi trying to hold on to the last remnants of a fast-fading culture, it was somehow appropriate that it was the colours of the flag that brought us from backyard level cricket at the Melba ovals in Canberra to first, the Bangladesh Cricket Club (BCC) in 2007 and finally the Tigers Sporting Club as it is today.
Those hit-arounds on halcyon Sunday afternoons in 2003, in a city far from home, was soon, egged by the force of competitive spirit, and turned into something more meaningful. As they say, never doubt the will-power of foreign student struggling to make ends meet. We might have been hard up for money, but every single extra penny went into sponsoring our irresistible Sunday habit. So in came better bats, then better balls and before we knew it, we also had a pair of gloves and pads at our disposal.
This was in the pre-Facebook years and cricket seemed like the only way we could, or rather should spend our spare time. The burning love kept us going as we participated in the occasional cross-country matchups with other expat communities mainly from Pakistan and India. The results, needless to say, were awful as we often struggled to even put together 11 free people willing to partake in a losing cause on their last off-day of the week. In truth who could blame them?
But as they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
Four years ago, we took our first big decision as a collective, and like all well-thought out group decisions, it too was always consigned to be an abject failure.
The only problem was that we did not know it then.
So one fine day, when we decided that this amateur mish-mash had gone about long enough and we would sign up for the serious(ish) Canberra Sunday Social League 2007-08 season, it was heralded as a big step forward.
Scraping the 600 dollars for registration was a necessary evil but it did not make it any less difficult. Most of us were still students and finding extra-money for cricket gear had been hard enough, much less for exorbitant registration fees.
Getting people involved was harder still as even though some of us managed to scrape up the funds in a last minute act of desperate bravado, it turned out the laws of economics applied to us as well, i.e people who did not pay, did not want to turn up to play either.
This then presented us with an even greater conundrum.
A resolution was found amidst frenzied last minute phone calls, which, lets face it, often ended badly and unsuccessfully. Fielding 7 against 11 in a game with no red cards might have been a novelty and that made looking at the score card that much harder at the end of the day. But sometimes we weren’t even that lucky, as lack of people forced us to forfeit a couple of games. Such challenging circumstances meant that no-one really was complaining at the return of 8 losses from 9 games. In hindsight, registering at the A-Grade (the highest level of the competition) was looking like the worst decision of the lot.
Like all jilted lovers, we stayed away the next year of the competition for fear of being embarrassed and it was back to playing one-off Sunday matches. It seemed that we were not meant for bigger things after all.
But like they say, once a Tiger has tasted blood, it can rarely stay away from it.
So in June of 2009 the itch started again. We missed being part of a team and competing against others. Hence, we decided to register again for the 2009-10 competition and as a challenge we decided to stick to the A Grade. What’s life without a few obstacles eh?
But we also decided that a change in name was in order. Life, as any marketing executive would tell you, is all about branding and Tigers Cricket Club sounded infinitely more fearful than the Bangladesh Cricket Club two years ago, even though the core people plying their trade was largely same.
We were not wrong! The change in name somehow spurred us on and we also developed a change in attitude. Most importantly we showed a willingness to learn from past mistakes and this time made sure we had a pool of at least 13 interested people before we registered. We fulfilled our foreign quota too as a couple of local lads fuelled by our revolutionary dreams joined the cause. This also grew a spirit of multi-culturalism within our team
By this time, most of us had graduated from university and were either working full-time, or overtime. This meant that while we still had time to spend, we also had a bit more money to spend as well.
Perhaps it was that which did the trick or perhaps it was the famous post game team bonding sessions at Turkish takeaway place in Page shops or a team trip to watch a match at the SCG, but that season there was a spirit around the team. The spirit might not have driven us to become champions but we finished a fully respectable 5th out of 10 teams by winning four out of nine games. A semi-final spot eluded us by a single point but the result showed that we belonged at that level.
Bangladeshi’s are born dreamers and as the original bunch of seven all heralded from there, it was no surprise that we were all thinking beyond what we were already a big part of.
So one afternoon during a team ‘adda’ session, the brainchild of what would become the Tigers Sporting Club was formed. The idea, coined by the original bunch, was soon shared amongst the collective and everyone thought that a sporting club would be a great idea to create a sporting culture in the Bangladeshi community and join together all the sports lovers who may have been playing occasionally in their own time, under one roof. It would also give sports lovers like ourselves the chance to participate in a sport they enjoyed.
The ideas seemed to invigorate the team and 2010-11 turned out to be our best season yet. We finished third winning six out of nine games and just barely missed out on getting to the final. Greatness though, we warn you, seems to be just around the corner.
Based on our decisions, we subsequently formally incorporated ourselves as a Non-Profit organization, which opens us up for diverse funding options such as receiving grants, organising fund-raisers and so on. We even had a stall in one of the most popular festival in Canberra, the Multicultural festival, to raise funds and increase awareness for the club.
At its noblest our intentions are that if we can start something solid then people in the future will not have to suffer through the same hardships that we had to. At its purest it’s so that people can have formalized fun without having to worry about how or when, something we struggled to do.
We all have busy lives; further education, full time employment, wives, girlfriends and in some cases families as well. But the motto of the clubs is such that no-matter where we are, no matter how busy we are, there is always time for a little hit-about. After all, who would we be without it?
Our journey has just started and we welcome you with open arms to jump on the wagon and enjoy the ride!
Please contact Ehsan Karim (ph: 0439 734 814) or Asif Hossain (0404 735 573) for memberships.
[* The first Bangali Sport Club in Canberra 'Priyo Sports Club' founded in 2004 details at Priyo Sports ]