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Active Champions

A tale of two countries and a cricket comeback

The Active Champions Series is a monthly showcase of inspiring stories from influential people living in Canada who make physical activity and sport a key part of their everyday lives.

MUKHWINDER GILL

PHOTO COURTESY: MUKHWINDER GILL

It can be tough to get back into a physical activity routine, especially if the absence was due to an injury or illness. But just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Cricket player Mukhwinder Gill knows all too well what it’s like to successfully restart an active routine after a long break.

When Mukhwinder was eight years old, she taught herself how to play cricket and played the sport in the street with her brother and other boys in India. Cricket is a bat-and-ball game similar to baseball that’s played by two teams of 11 players each on an oval-shaped field, the centre of which has a 20-metre pitch with a wicket (two bails balanced on three wooden stumps) at each end. The batting team has two batters playing at a time (one at each end of the pitch), while the fielding team has all 11 players on the field.

Starting at age 17, Mukhwinder took a seven-year break from cricket and moved to Canada in 2013. In 2021, she started playing cricket again to get back in shape after being sick with COVID for about two months. She first joined a cricket club, where she played six matches and found she had natural ability.

“I realized I had more to give and should further enhance my own skills and abilities, so I tried out for the Cricket Canada Women’s National Team in August 2021 and got selected!”

PHOTO COURTESY: CRICKET CANADA

Mukhwinder told ParticipACTION. “It was quite an achievement for me to be accepted without previous coaching and after having had COVID.”

In October 2021, shortly after joining the team, she and her teammates got to play in the ICC 2021 Women’s T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier in Mexico. Although they came in third place out of four teams and did not advance to the 2022 Global Qualifier, Mukhwinder still had a great experience overall. “Losses are a part of sports, but I’ve learned how to handle them and just focus on the next game.”

Playing cricket has not only taught Mukhwinder resilience but also the value of teamwork.

PHOTO COURTESY: CRICKET CANADA

“Being part of a team at that level gives you a confidence and morale boost. As people say, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. Your team is like your family, and you’ll experience ups and downs together, so it’s important to always stand by your team.”

Mukhwinder sees a bright future for women’s cricket in Canada. “Women’s cricket is not very popular in Canada right now because it’s still new to the country, but I think it will be on another level in the next three to five years.”

For those who have started or want to take up a new physical activity or sport, here’s Mukhwinder’s advice:

“Hang in there and never give up! Try your best and the hard work will pay off one day. If I could do this in my situation, so can you!”

Know an Active Champion you’d like to see profiled? Email us at info@participaction.com.

 

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