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New Calgary cricket program sees dozens of children hit the field

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A new Calgary cricket league is allowing children to take a swing at the sport — and it's already seen its popularity skyrocket.

The Future Stars Cricket League held its first open tryouts for kids aged 8 to 17 last month, and organizers weren't sure what to expect for a turnout. There are now 180 kids on 13 teams across the city.

"It's for everyone. If you're hearing about the sport for the first time, or if you've been playing for the past three or four years, it's for everyone," said Rommel Shahzad, one of the coaches with the program.

"We don't have any restrictions. Anyone can come and join," he said.

The league is completely free, including equipment and jerseys, though the group offers a paid cricket academy for players who want to spend more time honing their skills.

Shahzad is on Canada's national cricket team, and all of the coaches with Future Stars are playing at the international or national level.

Dania Imam has two young sons who joined the league this fall after practicing the sport at home.

The Future Stars Cricket League is bringing the sport to Calgary youth (CTV News Calgary/Jordan Kanygin).

"Because we watch cricket at home quite a bit, they've always been interested and they have been thrilled to come to these camps and play in the league," she said.

The academy and league come at a good time, Shahzad says, with the sports popularity soaring in the last decade in Canada.

"Honestly, I can just say this is a very good learning sport. It's a growing sport in Canada, so definitely come and check it out," he said.  

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