By Varun Desai
In the 1960s, a small group of Pakistani newcomers
carved out a place for themselves in an unknown
country called Canada. Mohammad Ali Siddiqui’s
family was one of those.
The Siddiqui clan was one such family among many
other migrant Pakistanis who made Canada their home
in the early 60s. Known for their extraordinary bravery,
the newcomers quickly earned a livelihood by starting
food franchises. These individuals also proactively
welcomed their fellow countrymen their aspiring fellow
countrymen to settle in Canada.
In 1995, Mohammad Ali Siddiqui, a Board Member of
the Toronto District Association, migrated to Canada
with his family. Armed with a degree in Computer
Engineering and sufficient work experience, Siddiqui did
not find it difficult to find his first Canadian job at Russel
Metals Inc. as a developer/DB analyst in Oracle.
Toronto did not look unfamiliar to Siddiqui. The dry
sweet cold of the city reminded him of Abbottabad,
Pakistan, where Siddiqui finished his middle and high
schools. Amid strangers and new surroundings, Siddiqui
did not miss the warmth of home as he found comfort
in the company of people who had integrated well into
the Canadian Society.
Cricket has never been just another game for a Pakistani.
Born a cricket worshipper, Siddiqui was initiated to the
game in his formative years in Salalah, Oman, where he
attended the British Government schools. Siddiqui’s love and practice of the
game continued as he joined cricket teams in his middle/high school years in
Abbottabad. During his transitioning years through the Javed Miandad schools,
young Siddiqui developed a love of bowling and discovered his knack for
batting. As years passed by, Siddiqui captained his university team in Karachi.
In 1995, when he arrived in Canada, Siddiqui joined Toronto District Cricket
Association. He started by playing with the York University team, with peers
like the Barbadian Don Maxwell, Sher Ali of Pakistan, and Usman Malik of U19
As Siddiqui’s association with York University ended, he moved through various
clubs. Finally, in 2006, Siddiqui settled for Ghaznavi Cricket Club with Nabeel
Mirza and Mairaj Nomani. The trio’s years of hard work made GCC the largest
club in terms of teams and members at TDCA.
Life took on a new meaning for Siddiqui as he was motivated by the success of
GCC. Soon, he set new goals and chased them in an unstoppable manner. As
an outcome, Siddiqui created the Cricket Club of Canada (CCC)in 2015, which
is affiliated with the Toronto and District Cricket League.
By 2010, Siddique was a credible name in Canadian Cricketing circles. In 2012
the then and present TDCA President, Mr. Mohammed Sheikh, reached out to
Ghaznavi Cricket Club and invited Siddiqui to join TDCA as its Board Member
and contribute towards strengthening cricket in a specific community.
Siddiqui’s initial role was that of a scheduler, where he assisted in establishing and
maintaining the annual calendar for the league. It included the Seniors, juniors
and Women’s regular and playoff schedules. As of date, Siddiqui continues
to be a member of the TDCA Board. His responsibilities include liaison with
the TCUSA (Toronto Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association) for the 1000+
games that happen in the TDCA annually. He also facilitates the annual function
or membership meeting and takes on various roles the organization needs.
It has been a decade since Siddiqui has been with TDCA. Siddiqui is a happy
man.” We work as a team; I have no interest in personal achievements, I
rather offer service and offerings for the greater good and for the love of the
game,” asserts Siddiqui .” The challenges are plenty, though. Board members
and their associates work voluntarily and tirelessly, ignoring their families, their
social commitments and, to a certain degree, their professional obligations
on numerous occasions and for no self-gain. The common mission of TDCA
members is to promote cricket as one of the best sporting activities available
to Torontonians.” continues Siddiqui.
The challenges do not end here, though. There are issues of
funding, venue, infrastructure, building better and stronger
relationships with municipalities, the province and federal,
generating participation from corporate and many others. There
is a great need to improve facilities, especially pitches, increase
the number of pitches, improve ground maintenance, especially
quality and level of grass, scale-up clubhouse and facilities, make
better arrangement of lights, arrange shade and water fountains
for team areas and so on.
There are challenges with players too. Though Siddiqui is hopeful
of the young Canadian cricketers, he feels that players need to
display greater accountability, be more engaged, optimize their
fitness and show professionalism both inside and outside the field.
TDCA, on its part, encourages young talents by supporting
cricket events and calendars scheduled for cricket academies at
substantially subsidized costs. Siddiqui, however, stresses that the
searchlight needs to focus on local talent and manage its coverage
well to make them marketable to the franchises.
Concerning improvements in Canadian cricket, a lot remains to
be done, feels Siddiqui. The structure must be strong with clear
operational awareness.” Canada needs to regain its past glory and
position,” stresses a passionate Siddiqui. “Other nations, including
the USA, have done well.” he further emphasizes.
In his professional life, Mohammad Siddiqui is an IT professional
specializing in enterprise resource planning services and products
primarily on Oracle platforms. His vast experience in managing and executing medium to large-scale technology solutions has given him expertise in handling people and technical issues with equal ease.
Siddique wears the multiple hats of a negotiator, ideator, implementor,
executor, and leader in his job. These skills earned through his three
decades of professional experience, combined with his natural
predisposition, have made Mohamamd Siddiqui one of the most
dependable board members of TDCA.
Siddiqui is a devoted family man and a dutiful son who always strives to
keep his parents happy and make them proud. Equally committed to his work and passion, Siddiqui manages to strike a work-life balance by taking a dip in the pool. Besides, as a 100 m and
200 m Sprinter in high school and university, Siddiqui enjoys his running.
A Pakistani at heart, Siddqui’s perfect fan moment will be to play a
match with the legendary Imran Khan. A social person, Siddiqui
believes in community networking and helping each other. Like every
proud Pakistani, he is abreast of Pakistani interests and culture while at
the same time being a vibrant member of Canadian Society.
A devout Muslim, Siddiqui ascribes all of his success to the mighty
Lord.” Almighty Allah chose me l to serve, and He showed me how,”
says the man whose faith in the Almighty is rock solid.
“I have been privileged to work with all board members at TDCA and
the various club owners and managers. Yes, there is one thing I am
surely happy about and perhaps a little proud too. Folks refer to me as
Ali Bhai. I am humbled and teary-eyed for this respect and will never be
able to thank them all enough for this esteemed privilege.”
It has been a difficult two-year period for sports and business alike.
But Cricket has been strong and very engaging despite the onslaught
of Covid -19, observes Siddiqui. “Last year’s TDCA season saw five
T20 and three 50 over champions. And with full-season possible on
horizon, we looking plenty good,” states an optimistic Siddiqui.
With God in his heart, Mohammad Siddiqui’s heart is for the betterment
of Canadian Cricket,” Only Give up, When Your Heart Gives up.”
“And If I don’t wake up, tell them I sacrificed my today for their
tomorrow.” Concluded this faithful and untiring TDCA board member
with a smile.