Move over baseball, it's Cricket time in Chicago
West Loop Cricket Association (WLCA), Chicago, provides an unbeatable platform to the hundreds of cricket fans in US.
Two days. 18 teams. 25 games. One winner. Thats cricket in Chicago for you.
Played in the sprawling University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Michelle Obama Athletic Complex, in the west loop neighbourhood of Chicago, the Super 8 Cricket Tournament is becoming a huge hit among the cricket crazy fans in Chicago and neighbouring cities like Ohio.
When four IT guys, originally from India (Harry, Shreenidhi, Vivek, Harsha), decided to start a cricket club in Chicago, little did they know, that what was started as a one time game, would take shape of a tournament, being played every year.
Since its inception in 2017, the number of participating teams in the Super 8 Cricket Tournament, has gone from 8 to 18. This time, according to the organisers, registrations had to be stopped in five days. Talk about supply exceeding the demand.
"Our initial goal was 16, then we moved to 18, but then we had to stop the registration, as the teams kept coming from different neighbourhoods, says Vivek Sarkar, Co-founder, WICA (West Loop Cricket Association). We also got requests from few non-Indians, which we will try to accommodate, next time."
Sponsorship association with US Bank reflects the games' huge popularity and increasing fan base, in the city known for it's love for baseball (Chicago Cubs).
"It is an honor to sponsor the WLCA and this wonderful event! Thank you for allowing U.S. Bank to be a part of your cricket family. Cheers to your success", says Susan Brown, Mortgage Loan Originator, US Bank.
For the players, it's the undying love for the game of cricket that pulls them together. Players representing as many as 20 diverse neighbourhoods from Chicago and suburbs, were joined by those who drove hundreds of miles to be part of this fun tournament. Every year this tournament brings in new experince, new motivation.
"Basically for love of the game, we like organising and managing things, want to stay connected in this way, and spread this game around. Chicago is a very diverse city, many people often ask us about cricket, which makes us so happy. I would love to make this the best cricket league in Chicago", says Kunal, Member, Core Organising Team.
For a few teams, even names are typical Indian (Chennai Super Kings, Hyderabad Nawab, Hyderabad Blues).
If you want to get in touch and participate in the next year's tournament, the core organising team includes Kunal, Niranjan, Sunil, Saurabh, Vijay, Yogesh and Rahul.
This year GloryHunters took the champions trophy while defending champions Chicago Centaurs were the runners up.
(Thanks to Vivek Sarkar for all the footage).