Updated: Mar 23
Illustration: Cindy Chen
The cancellation of sport due to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a tough sacrifice for many sports fans including two RMIT students who have begun to plan a big event to celebrate its return.
Self-confessed cricket fanatics and RMIT first-year Bachelor of Information Technology students Chamal Paulis and Sohan Lokula are planning a social cricket tournament for RMIT first-year students post the Covid-19 lockdown.
The inspiration for the tournament came while Paulis was getting his cricket fix by watching a popular documentary about the sport.
“I was rewatching The Test, the documentary. I got really into it and I was like what if we get people together for a game of cricket,” Paulis said.
This led him to put up a post in a Facebook group that is popular among RMIT first-year students, asking if anybody would be interested in a match after quarantine restrictions are lifted.
“I was like okay, I have this idea just put it in the group, lets see what everyone thinks and there was actually a pretty good reaction. I didn’t expect so many people, like 40, that’s nearly enough for four teams,” he said.
“There were a lot of people excited on the post tagging their friends, you know, showing how much they've missed the sport. I think that kind of reflects on everything about the situation right now.”
After seeing the post, Lokula, who was also fresh off watching the cricket documentary himself, got in contact with Paulis and they agreed to organise the event together.
While both are massive cricket fans now, their stories about how they came to love the sport are starkly different.
Paulis is a relatively new fan only taking a liking to cricket in the last few years citing the 2019 World Cup in England as a catalyst for his love of the game.
“I wasn't the biggest cricket fan growing up, but two years back I really started getting into it, mainly because of the World Cup. When it came on my friends were watching it, my family were watching and so I also sat down and started to watch and I was like wow, this is like such an amazing, interesting sport,” Paulis said. “Now I'm like a fanatic, I know the ins and out every single thing.”
Lokula has been a fan all of his life, having grown up playing the sport.
“I was actually born in India. So, while growing up I used to play a lot of cricket, every weekend we used to go on the streets and play cricket. I joined my school team when I was in year 2 and that started that interest for me,” Lokula said.
Like many cricket fans Paulis & Lokula were left a bit deflated when the Covid-19 pandemic prematurely ended the men’s Australia vs New Zealand One-Day International series and cast significant doubt over upcoming events on the cricketing calendar, such as the Indian Premier League and the men's T20 World Cup, that was scheduled to be hosted here in Australia.
“I miss it a lot, watching cricket matches every now and then,” Lokula said. “I was waiting for the World Cup so much, I bought tickets for every match for India.”
Photo: Patrick Hendry on Unsplash.
Despite this, both students said they found some solace in the cricket community and that it was one of the sports that had a unique ability to unite people.
“Cricket, I would say, doesn't get enough credit that it's supposed to be getting. It's one of those sports that unite the whole world. So many different parts of the world play cricket,” Paulis said.
Lokula hoped the tournament could be a positive social event where first-year students of all cricketing abilities can connect over a shared interest and build friendships in ways that have been challenging due to the circumstances of their first semester.
“There's a lot of people that haven't met. We’ve just been at uni for around two weeks and then we started online. So, we haven't really gone into the uni and been able to meet other people,” he said.
Paulis also hoped the event could provide some motivation for people who have been struggling with the lack of socialisation during this time.
“It's something I personally really look forward to, I can't speak for everyone but at least I hope that it's something that is kind of motivating and pushing people to get through this period, so they know that there are good times ahead,” he said.
While the logistics such as a date and venue for the tournament have yet to be decided on, both students are eager to start sorting out the details at the conclusion of the semester.
If you’re a first year student at RMIT and interested in participating, request to join the ‘RMIT First Years Cricket League -2020’ group on Facebook to stay updated.