Cricket field as a second home
Tampere is a scene for major league cricket in Finland. In February, the Tampere Cricket Club won bronze medals at the televised national indoor championship tournament in Tampere. More than a half of the team members work or study at TUT.
Tampere Cricket Club won bronze medals at the national indoor championship tournament.
Last year was particularly successful for Tampere Cricket Club: they won the national championship in the Cricket Finland SM20 League and came in third in the SM40 League. Along the years, the players of TCC have included people from nearly all countries in which cricket is a major sport: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, England and South Africa. Occasional Finns have also grabbed the bat.
“More than a half of our current TCC team, comprising 24 members, either study or work at Tampere University of Technology. In fact, TUT is an important sponsor of ours,” says the team’s former captain Zafar Ahmed, a postdoctoral researcher at TUT.
An overarching childhood sport
While the Finnish offspring play ‘pesäpallo’ in their backyards and the children in many other countries gather for a round of soccer, the people in the Commonwealth countries play cricket. Originally from Pakistan, Zafar Ahmed was excited to return to his beloved sport after moving to Finland.
“In my childhood, I spent a lot of time playing cricket. After moving to Finland, I could not believe that this snowy country actually had cricket teams – let alone a championship league!”
Tampere Cricket Club
- Currently comprises 24 players, 11+1 of whom play in the team at a time
- More than a half study or work at TUT
- There are approximately 25 cricket clubs in Finland
Zafar Ahmed works at TUT as a postdoctoral researcher.
Ahmed works at TUT’s Department of Chemistry and Bioengineering as a postdoctoral researcher. His specialist field is synthetic organic chemistry.
“I study synthetic organic molecules that can be manipulated with light. It is a very intriguing area! I am sure we will see some exciting applications in the future,” he says.
An international university, TUT is a convenient place for recruiting new members to the cricket team.
“At first, international students may feel lonely. When you ask them if they perhaps play cricket, they seem genuinely delighted. In the team, they get to enjoy a familiar sport while also accumulating a full social circle.
For Zafar Ahmed himself, the team spirit is a key attraction in the sport.
“You get to meet new people from diverse backgrounds. Also, a really nice custom that has formed in Finland is that the home team takes the visiting team out for lunch. The games may last for up to six hours, so this is indeed a welcome practice and also a part of the community spirit involved. Thanks to this hobby of mine, I now know people from all over Finland,” Ahmed says.
Introducing the sport to Finns
In Tampere, you may catch a cricket match in the Sorsapuisto park in the summer, and that is where TCC also goes to play.
“The only field in Finland that was specifically built for cricket, featuring natural grass and a pavillion, is located in Kerava. That is also where we played the national championship finals last summer, and managed to win.”
In winter, TCC practises indoors once a week, but when the outdoor season sets off at the beginning of May, their practice pace picks up.
“In summer, we have a game somewhere in Finland almost every weekend. On top of that, we also practise once or twice a week,” says Ahmed, who himself is a good batsman.
Zafar Ahmed has also tried ‘pesäpallo’ during his time in Finland. There is something similar in the two sports: both involve pitching, hitting a ball, trying to catch it, and then trying to catch the players of the opposing team. But there are also many differences. Due to the certain familiarity, Finns have taken an interest in the sport, however.
“With TCC, we have given introductory lessons at the local schools. Finnish children are now actually quite enthusiastic about cricket!”