TORONTO – Pakistan’s cricket star Shahid Afridi appreciated Toronto Mayor John Tory for inviting him for an effort to make cricket popular in the multi-cultural city and elsewhere in Canada.
“This is a great honour for me to be here,” Afridi said as he stood with Tory and Councillor Neethan Shan on at the city hall on Thursday.
“This is my fourth trip to Toronto. Such a beautiful country, such a beautiful city.”
Afridi took over as captain of the Pakistan national cricket team in 2009 and has been named Man of the Match 32 times, the most for any Pakistani player.
Toronto is the most multicultural city in Canada with a large number of immigrants from South Asian origin where cricket is one of the most popular sports.
According to Statistics Canada, the province of Ontario is the home to 62% of all Canadians of South Asian origin, while another 22% lived in British Columbia.
“We look forward to taking you up on your offer of some help with our young people and others who are interested in cricket, because I know you’ll be a powerful influence on them and a positive influence and we really appreciate that,” Mayor Tory told Afridi.
This trip to Toronto follows Afridi’s February announcement that he has retired from the sport on the international stage, but he continues to promote cricket internationally off the field, CBC News reported.
“Your participation in this visit is actually making that push, and that momentum grows for us to bring more cricket and more international cricket, as well as more cricket facilities for … young men and young women who play this beautiful sport,” Coun. Shan, who helped organised the trip told Afridi.
“Cricket was once declared Canada’s national sport by Sir John A Macdonald and Mayor Tory has recognised an increase in interest in the sport across the city.”
“The game itself has been exploding in Toronto regarding the interest and participation of young people,” Tory said. “We’re left to think about how we can best use his time and talents to (help kids inspired by him).”
The cricket star is also in the city to introduce Canadians to the Shahid Afridi Foundation, which supports impoverished communities in Pakistan.
“I want to do something here for cricket and some noble causes as well,” Afridi said, according to CBC News.