Toronto, Canada, Jun 21 (UNI) The federal government today recognised cricket as Canadian sport, about 150 years after it was once regarded as the country's national sport.
The recognition, which was propelled by the avid enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands of recent immigrants, came yesterday from the governmnet and would help to elevate the game's formal stature.
''It's a tremendous day for cricket,'' President of Cricket Canada Ben Sennik said.
The recognition, which follows a decade of lobbying, means an immediate grant of 77,000 dollars for 2007-2008 and would help in making the sport eligible for much needed public funding.
''We need every dollar, the way we are developing,'' Sennik said.
''In the past, we have been scraping through.'' Canada is no stranger to the pastime, with reports of games played here as far back as the mid-18th century.
The country's first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald, declared it Canada's national sport in 1867 and Cricket Canada itself was established in 1892. However, the game was quickly overtaken by baseball in importance.
About 40,000 people in Canada are registered as cricket players with their provincial associations - the best of them barely qualifying even as semi-professionals.
As many as 50,000 others are estimated to play regularly and schools are increasingly getting in on the game as well.
The government is committed to spend 164 million dollars a year supporting more than 50 different sports, and Secretary of State for Sport Helena Guergis welcomed cricket to the fold.
''It is an exciting day for cricketers for Cricket Canada, as a national sports organisation, to have the opportunity to be recognised by the federal government,'' Guergis said.
Cricket Canada used the opportunity to show off the national team's natty new uniform - grey with a red stripe on the sides of the shirt and pants, with a splash of yellow on the sleeves.
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