Emrul, a professor of Economics and Finance at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and Redowan, a passionate government employee and a photographer, joined LMS in 2021 taking on the British Colombia franchise and Master Franchise of LMS Canada. They have emerged as the driving forces behind the incredible success of Last Man Stands (LMS) in Canada. Their unwavering commitment and complementary skills have propelled LMS there to new heights, revolutionizing the cricketing landscape and creating opportunities for players of all backgrounds. With Emrul's strategic vision and Redowan's operational expertise, they have reshaped the league and fostered a thriving cricketing community across the nation.
Emrul and Redowan have been reflecting on their experiences and challenges as LMS Franchise Owners, and what makes Last Man Stands unique in today's cricket world.
Building a Solid Foundation
When we launched the LMS BC franchise in August 2021, we immediately captured the attention and support of cricket enthusiasts in the region. Recognizing the immense potential of the league, we presented our vision to cities across Canada, showcasing the inclusive nature of LMS and its ability to unite players from diverse backgrounds. The overwhelming response from the cities paved the way for LMS to acquire the coveted national master franchise, allowing us to expand our reach and impact throughout the country.
My (Emrul) background as a professor at UBC and my passion for cricket have allowed me to infuse my teachings with the values and mission of LMS. Redowan's deep passion for cricket and his expertise in operations, media relations, and social media management have played a pivotal role in the success of LMS Canada. His efforts in capturing professional photographs, recording and live-streaming matches, and managing the league's operations have elevated the league's visibility and created a captivating digital presence. His dedication to showcasing the league's achievements and engaging with the cricketing community through various online platforms has attracted a broader audience and garnered increased interest in LMS.
Respect and camaraderie in LMS Canada
Respect and camaraderie in LMS Canada
Embracing Inclusivity and Empathy
Our approach to growing LMS Canada revolves around inclusivity, empathy, and understanding the unique challenges faced by cricket enthusiasts. By personally engaging with players, both on the field and over the phone, we have gained valuable insights into their experiences, aspirations, and areas of improvement. This empathetic connection has resulted in a player-centric approach, ensuring that LMS Canada provides a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for all participants.
Emrul and Redowan with LMS EarlyRisers 2022 champions and runners up
Emrul and Redowan with LMS BC Blasters CUP 2022 champions
A Platform for All
One of the fundamental principles driving us is the belief that cricket should be accessible to everyone. We have tirelessly worked to secure government funding through our foundation (https://www.lastmanstands.com/canada/dei-foundation), enabling equity-deserving groups, such as newcomers and BIPOC communities, to play the game for free. This initiative has not only encouraged newcomers to Canada to form their own teams but also facilitated networking and mentoring opportunities within the LMS community. Additionally, our partnership with Sport for Life (https://sportforlife.ca/) has provided valuable learning and training resources, ensuring players have the tools to enhance their skills and enjoy the game to the fullest.
Overcoming Challenges: Emrul and Redowan's Resilience
We have faced our share of challenges as we build and promote the league. One significant hurdle has been the resistance from existing cricket leagues, with a competitive club cricket structure that often resists change. However, we have remained resilient, standing up to the challenges and staying focused on our vision of a professional and inclusive cricketing experience.
Despite the obstacles, our efforts have yielded impressive results. In 2022, LMS Canada attracted 18 teams across three tournaments, demonstrating the growing acceptance of the league's unique format. The momentum has continued into 2023, with only the first tournament boasting an impressive turnout of 20 teams. Our determination and perseverance have solidified LMS Canada's position as an innovative and promising cricketing platform.
Our forward-thinking mindset has led to the expansion of LMS Canada beyond traditional boundaries. Recognizing the challenges faced by students and their limited time availability, we created a university league, providing an opportunity for students to engage in a shorter, two-hour format. The overwhelming response to this initiative further fuelled our determination to introduce corporate and women's leagues, making cricket accessible to a wider audience. Additionally, our focus on promoting indoor cricket through our foundation during the winter months has been instrumental in retaining players and supporting their mental well-being.
Collaboration and Engagement
We understand that growth cannot be achieved in isolation. We have actively engaged with cities, sports councils, and park board commissioners, establishing partnerships and collaborative relationships that promote the growth of cricket across the nation. By showcasing our accomplishments, leveraging social media, and personally learning media relations and social media management, we have attracted attention, and resources, further fuelling the success of LMS Canada.
Our contributions extend beyond the boundaries of LMS Canada. We have dedicated our time and efforts to working closely with city sports councils and actively participating in committees, gaining a better understanding of the needs and aspirations of local communities. By aligning our initiatives with the goals of the cities we serve, we have fostered stronger relationships and gained access to valuable resources that have further propelled the growth of LMS Canada.
Emrul with city of Surrey mayor Doug McCallum, councillor Mandeep Nagra (far right), and media professional Qumrul H. Mithun (far left)
Emrul (far right) and Redowan (far left) with city of surrey councillor, Mike Bose (from left), councillor Linda Annis (middle), and Member of Parliament Randeep Sarai
We strongly believe in recognizing and rewarding those who contribute to the league's success. We have elevated individuals, such as umpires, who have shown exceptional dedication and support, by promoting them to league managers (Sagor and Anmol are the current League Managers) and offering different financial and non-financial incentives. Hiring program officers through our foundation has enabled LMS Canada to focus on diversity, inclusivity, and equity, differentiating it from other leagues and fostering a welcoming environment for all participants.
Sagor and Anmol: From umpires in 2022 to league managers in 2023
Fostering Sustainable Growth
We are focused on achieving sustainable growth for cricket in the country. We have taken proactive steps such as organizing cricket demonstrations in schools and planning to coach young children officially. We also plan to start corporate cricket demonstrations. Our goal is to foster a love for cricket among Canadians and rebuild its reputation as the first national sport of Canada. We firmly believe that cricket, along with prioritizing mental health, can ensure sustainable growth by attracting diverse participants and creating a strong cricketing culture in the country.
Our vision extends beyond expanding the player base. We aim to establish an ecosystem where cricket becomes deeply embedded in Canadian culture once again. By nurturing young talent, promoting inclusivity, and emphasizing the mental health benefits of active participation, we seek to create a future where every Canadian has the opportunity to engage with and enjoy cricket.
LMS Canada school demonstration of cricket to students from Cornerstone School, Surrey
Embracing Growth Opportunities: My Call for LMS Sub-Franchises in Canada
"The growth opportunities in Canada are tremendous, so we invite people to show interest in LMS sub-franchises across the country," emphasizes Emrul who is a PhD in Finance, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and a Financial Risk Manager (FRM). He highlights the immense potential by citing the example of British Columbia, where the existing leagues have around 2,500 registered players. However, the province is home to approximately 450,000 South Asians, and even if only 5% of them play cricket at any skill level (which is likely an underestimation), it accounts for around 20,000 potential cricketers in BC alone. Emrul firmly believes that the existing structures of other leagues have the potential to deter many hardworking individuals who seek the recreational and stress-free experience of playing the shorter versions of the game.
With this perspective, I encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and cricket enthusiasts to consider LMS sub-franchises in Canada. By aligning with LMS, they can tap into the vast and untapped market of passionate cricketers who are seeking a more inclusive and flexible cricketing platform. My vision is to create a space where recreation, camaraderie, and personal growth flourish, making cricket accessible to a broader range of individuals.
A Bright Future
As LMS Canada continues to expand its presence in Ottawa and Victoria, in addition to its strong presence in Toronto (East) and throughout British Columbia, we envision a future of even greater growth and impact. With each new sub-franchise, we strive to bring the LMS experience to more cricket-loving communities, offering a platform that transcends skill levels and promotes camaraderie.
In our quest to create a supportive and inclusive cricketing environment, we have actively advocated against bullying and unhealthy competition. We emphasize that Last Man Stands is a format designed for players of all skill levels, where the focus is on enjoyment and mental well-being. By fostering a culture of respect and fair play, we ensure that every participant feels valued and motivated to continue their cricketing journey.
In conclusion, with our strong vision, we have embarked on a remarkable journey to reshape cricket in the country. Our commitment to inclusivity, empathy, and community engagement has created a platform where players from all walks of life can come together and enjoy the game. Through strategic partnerships, government funding, and a player-centric approach, we have laid a solid foundation for LMS Canada's growth and success. As we continue to expand our reach and impact, our dedication to fostering a welcoming and inclusive cricketing community will, we hope, leave a lasting legacy on the Canadian cricket landscape.