How a new cricket fundraiser taps into a growing sport and diverse fan base

By Angela Kryhul, Adrenalin editor

On May 31, 2025, cricket enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels will pick up their bats and gather in Mississauga, ON, to support the inaugural Cricket to Conquer Cancer event. As many as 100 teams are expected to help raise funds for The Princess Margaret, which is among the top five cancer research centres in the world.

Members of Canada’s national cricket teams with Carlos Brathwaite (second from left), 2023 Global T20 Canada champion and former captain of the West Indies National team
Photo: Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Steve Merker, vice-president of corporate and community partnerships at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, shares the story behind this new event.

What inspired the organization to create Cricket to Conquer Cancer?

Steve Merker: We have walks, bike rides, road hockey and other fundraising events that appeal to different communities and demographics. We’re always looking for opportunities to engage with new audiences and it was actually someone on one of our Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer teams who asked if we had ever thought about doing a cricket fundraiser. We hadn’t, so they introduced us to a community version called street cricket, or backyard cricket, where you don’t need big open fields to play. 

We thought it made sense: cricket is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada and many new Canadians love cricket. This is a new opportunity for us to connect with a community that might not be familiar with what we do at the Foundation. 

Why host this event in Mississauga?

SM: There are few great venues that can host an event of this magnitude. We need a big, open space to set up tents and infrastructure and that is easy to get to by public transit and major highways. Our research indicates that the South Asian community and the cricket community are living in the Mississauga-Brampton-Etobicoke area. 

What are your expectations for this new event?

SM: As with all of our events, it’s a fundraiser first. We want everybody who participates to be mission-focused first and to participate in an activity that they love. 

Street cricket is a very accessible version of the game. Anybody can play. We want to ensure that the rules are really simple and clear for people who maybe haven’t played before. We’re currently building a committee that will be tasked with helping us find community teams and corporate teams. Deloitte has already committed to five teams and TD Bank is committing two teams. 

Our plan is to have cricket celebrities—national team members and retired international players—participate in the event, as well as media personalities and celebrities. The night before game day, we will host a celebrity draft event where the top fundraising teams can draft a celebrity to play on their team.

How will you build awareness for this event?

SM: We’re working with an agency called Ethnicity Matters, who are specialists in ethnic marketing and they understand the game of cricket. We will have instructional videos on our website, we will host some pre-event matches and we’ll be working with athletes from Canada’s national cricket teams.

The marketing plan will differ from what we might use for our bike rides, walks or our lottery. When we launched Cricket to Conquer Cancer a month ago, we did have some traditional media there, but we also had OMNI Television, Punjabi radio and other niche community media outlets that we don’t usually connect with. They came out in full force and we had 33.5 million impressions from our launch event.

We’ll have a street marketing team out at different cricket activities in the region throughout the summer and we’ll do a lot of grassroots marketing.

Cricket To Conquer Cancer: By the Numbers
Date: May 31, 2025
Location: Celebration Square, Mississauga, ON 
Participants: 100 teams, six to eight players each; age 16+; co-ed
Fundraising requirement: $6,000 per team

Representatives of Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, members of Canada’s national cricket teams and Carlos Brathwaite, 2023 Global T20 Canada champion and former captain of the West Indies National team
Photo: Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Published June 2024

0 replies on “How a new cricket fundraiser taps into a growing sport and diverse fan base”