Religion, Caste, Community No Barriers. It’s Only Cricket!

By Varun Desai
At every point in his life, Tazul Riad has valued two types of education, schools that offered
him the basic knowledge of how to make a living, and the other is what his Father taught
him how to live. Riad, a resident of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, since 2005, is an elected President of
PEI Cricket Association and a member of the independent review panel for the Cricket Canada
member of the International Sports Association.

Tazul Riad hails from a prominent family of politicians and educationists
in Bangladesh. Riad’s Father was the Principal of Purba Madarupur
College, his brother a University Professor, his late Uncle a Minister
and his cousin a Deputy minister in the government.

“All of my friends, I consider childhood friends, because we met
when I was much young and I’m still friends with them today. It’s
nice that I still have that core group.” states Riad.

The boys were fond of the game, and together they played to
grow Cricket in Damudya Shariatpur, a Bangladeshi district
where Riad spent his early years before going to Dhaka
to complete his University education. “We played
cricket every day as long as we could see the ball
until it was dark,” reminisces Riad.

Besides friends, at age ten, Riad’s elder brother
Professor Dr. Muzahid initiated him to
Cricket. Riad’s sisters, Dr.Rupa and
Dr.Luna, also encouraged him to
play Cricket. Riad’s parents were
very supportive and always
bought the equipment he
needed to better his game.

In 1999, Bangaldesh made its debut entry in
the World Cup as an associate team. A highly motivated
Riad and his friends left no stone unturned to popularize
Cricket over soccer in Damodya.

Watching Sourav Ganguly slamming
a century in the 1997-98 Silver
Jubilee Independence Cup in Dhaka
was a second morale booster that
ignited Riad’s love for Cricket.Over
time, Riad shaped up as one of the
finest all-rounders in his district and
became a well-known name in the
cricketing circle. Riad played as an
opening bowler and an opening
batsman for his club, frequently
claiming as many as five wickets
and making half tons. Such was his
cricketing prowess that neighboring
districts and other clubs would bid
for Riad to hire him as a matchwinning

“Cricket is my life; it makes me feel
healthy, mentally and physically
fit, confident and proud of what
I am.”, asserts Riad,” but I never
considered Cricket to be my future
career; I played the game to have
fun with friends.”

In 2005 Riad moved to Canada to
pursue his Undergraduate degree
in Business Administration from the
University of Prince Edward Island.
Around that time, PEI had hardly
any infrastructure to play Cricket,
even though the island has a proud
history of Cricket. “Times were not
easy, there were project deadlines,
no place to practice Cricket and no
people to play. In 2009, only 6 to 8
players were available to play the game,” recalls Riad.

Back home, Riad would play Cricket at lunch during school as a child, then play all day after school. It was his dream to create a similar community on Prince Edward Island. “We played cricket in a baseball field with few other like-minded subcontinent friends.”

Sarath Chandrasekre took the initiative to build a team where Riad, Verley Harrison, Kense Philip, Ross Dwyer, Cyril Roy, Anil Puttaswamy, Michael Matthews, Udoyoga Armasinghe and Romiz played vital roles in starting Cricket. During the first season that Riad was involved, eleven players took part in fifteen games. The next year, it grew to one hundred and fifteen games. Today PEI Cricket Association has a league of eight clubs with 250 players and 50 non-playing members.” We are 300 members now, and we are hoping to grow to 500 members next year,” says Riad.

When Riad took over as President, the association’s finance were in debt, and only a handful (around 30 to 40) of people used to play with no sponsor. Riad and the then President worked hard to pay off half of the mortgage. Riad’s immediate goal then was to start winning games and set a target to win the Maritime cup so that it could attract more sponsors. PEI won their first provincial game in the eastern cup against New Brunswick. Then in 2021, PEI won the Maritime, beating Cricket New Brunswick in the finals by 100 runs. It was the first time in 20 years the team made the finals and a first for winning the Maritime Cup. Captain Parth Patel, Fahad Hussain , Priyam Soni, Arth Darji and Sufian played brilliantly in the Maritime Cup. Tazul give full credit to his board to become the champions.

As the President Riad has successfully made PEI a member of Sports PEI as a not-for-profit organization. Riad also revised the Umpire fee from zero dollars to 10 $ and then to $25.From 2023 Riad proposes to scale up the fees further, taking it to $50 per game.Riad has also been instrumental in networking with local vendors like Somru BioScience, Pizza Donair,Bio Vectra, Kenmac Energy, Spicey chef and Subaru Charlottetown as sponsors for Cricket PEI.

Since Riad became the President, he ensured that there are no barriers to the community’s involvement. In his mission, Riad, made Cricket PEI a hub for immigrants. “I know a lot of immigrants playing, but we think it will not grow if we don’t attract the Islander kids,” he said. “So we are trying to promote a kids program.We want young talented islanders to represent Cricket Canada on World Stage in next five years,” asserts Riad.

To accommodate new players, Riad is already working with the town of Stratford for another ground that got approved. Hopefully, by 2024, PEI cricket will have a ground with a turf wicket. Since weather plays a vital role Riad is also working on creating winter indoor facilities. Cricket Canada is supporting provincial bodies now, for example, the recent national tournament in Toronto. These will have a greater impact sooner or later,feels Riad . Few provinces also play big bash tournaments and invite players from other provinces, which will have a great impact in the near future.

Outside of cricket Riad doubles up as a Senior Analyst for and as a realtor. Despite a busy schedule, he still finds time to play Cricket,soccer, long tennis and badminton and spends quality time with his wife and daughter. Riad is also the Owner of the PEI Tigers Inc.

“ Never give up. I always think no matter what the difficulties are I will touch the finish lines. This drives me towards success .In my life. I worked hard throughout and always tried to be fair. My wife Sarah and my 6 year old support me in Cricket tremendously; I couldn’t have done it without their sacrifice. I spent 4 months in the summer without giving them time, and they don’t blame me. This is another reason for my success in Cricket,concludes Riad.

Cricket recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, and breaks walls to reach its destination. While many of the people on PEI playing the sport speak different languages and come from different backgrounds, none of that matters while on the field or on the pitch. And Tazul Riad has successfully achieved that

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