Gibraltar Cricket is most definitely at a cross roads. For the past 5 or 6 years the certainty surrounding our home, formerly known as the “Europa Cricket Oval”, and local cricket in general has taken a vast effect on our long-term plans.
The reduced seasons (explained below) and recently, the last two seasons where not one single ball has been bowled in Gibraltar, has brought us on the forefront of the International Cricket Council’s attention and a possible “suspension” is on the cards, there is no denying this fact.
To understand the relief, we as a Cricket Board and as Members of Gibraltar Cricket are feeling these days, one must understand why and appreciate some of the challenges we have faced in recent years.
Since the Gibraltar Football Associations admission into the UEFA, Gibraltar Cricket, more importantly, our “Home”, was always under intense scrutiny, whether the big stadium was going to be constructed in this site or not. “It is a sh*t hole”, “There’s only sand there…”, these are some of the comments we read online which stick to mind. The general public wanted the football stadium built in Europa, we didn’t as this was our “home” and had been for many years. This led to a lot of uncertainty around the March/April time for two consecutive years whether we weren’t sure whether we would be able to play cricket there or not.
Whilst we have always supported the Football Association and will continue to do so, we are glad that things have turned out how they have, and we get to keep Europa in conjunction with the Gibraltar Rugby Football Union and the Gibraltar Squash Association.
We would like to point out to the readers that whilst we strongly opposed the football stadium for obvious reasons, past Gibraltar Cricket Board Members and present have never taken to social media to voice our disagreement.
During this time, we also noticed that there was a huge increase events in the Gibraltar calendar, sadly for Gibraltar Cricket, this meant that the Gibraltar Sports and Leisure Authority had to start granting event organisers access to the Europa Cricket Oval to be able to host these events. As with any event, there is a set-up period, event date(s) and a clean-up period. There were times where events were “thrown” at us at short notice which brought it’s own problems as I will explain further.
Whilst there were good event organisers who stuck to their planned schedules like clockwork, we did encounter some not so very good organisers who once the event had ended would be out of the picture and nowhere to be found. What is the problem? Quite simply, they would leave the facility in an unusable state which reduced our season more and more. This meant more disruption to our members who were already disappointed with the fact that our season start had been delayed and now had to cancel plans, “try to” alter any holiday dates etc to be able to make themselves available for rearranged fixtures. Summer is peak holiday season for the grand majority of humans, so you can appreciate that making plans and being cancelled last minute is going to hamper your availability somewhat.
Another of the challenges we have had to endure is that with the uncertainty of the future of our ground we have not been able to commit to any oversees touring teams coming down to Gibraltar to play our local sides as we have done in the past. This was a major part of our season and one our members always enjoyed. As you can appreciate, playing against the same players every year can become quite boring in a sporting way.
Therefore, we are very positive that the next upcoming months will play a big role in Gibraltar Cricket’s history, with the commitment made by the Government of Gibraltar to provide us with a shared facility with Gibraltar Rugby and Gibraltar Squash as main stakeholders of the Europa Sports Facility, we hope to end all past uncertainties and past challenges and be able to focus our attention on development and growth of the sport in Gibraltar.
We hope to be able to finally offer our Members a facility we are proud of within a clean and safe environment where all ages can enjoy a game of cricket in the summer and top-class facilities for training all year round with the indoor and outdoor training centers. In these centers we are finalizing our plans before we move in to cater for:
- Junior Cricket (finally a facility we can control allocations and play within our desired timings);
- Both Male and Female;
- Senior Cricket:
- Both Male and Female;
- Social Cricket;
- Touring Sides (Recreational plus lower level Internationals due to ground requirements);
In short, The Europa Sports Complex (“the Facility”) has the potential to allow the “non-traditional” or “smaller” sports who have struggled to develop over recent years to have a “Home” and a platform to allow us to thrive and become bigger sports in the local sports market.