LATHROP – It’s a game that can trace its history back hundreds of years to British royalty.
And if Ocran Akran has his druthers, Cricket – the bat-and-ball sport wildly popular in former British colonies such as India and South Africa – will be a game that the masses will be able to enjoy on Lathrop’s own pristine cricket pitch.
During Monday’s Lathrop City Council meeting, Akran shared his efforts to start a local cricket club similar to the ones he organized in other communities that he has called home – most recently Livermore before moving to Lathrop nearly two years ago.
He has almost enough players to field a local cricket team and the grassy area needed to facilitate matches. He still needs a concrete pitch – a nearly 30-long and 9-foot-wide paved section that would be covered in padding and synthetic grass and serve as the surface for bowlers and batsman to face off.
Lathrop Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos said just going and handing out the money to make the project possible isn’t really an option. Santos did, however, tell Akran that he was a fan of his proposal and that the concept of a family-friendly sport that people can enjoy is something that would get his vote depending on the financial constraints.
“How good are your fundraisers?” Santos asked with a wry smile. “I like what it is that you’ve suggested, but in order for it to be viable we have to work together on something like this.”
Not everybody in attendance, however, thought that the timing for such a project was right given the recent clash over the budget approval and the weakened financial future that the city is facing over the course of the next five years.
Lathrop resident John Wall said that when coaching his Lathrop Little League team out at Mossdale Community Park he had to warn the kids not to slide because of the lack of clay fill on the base paths. He noted the baseball fields are a facility that was already supposed to be maintained by the City of Lathrop.
“Just two weeks ago we’re talking about laying people off and now we’re talking about giving money for this?” Wall asked. “I think it’s a good idea and I think it’s something that we should do but I don’t think that this is the right time for something like this and that should be considered.”
The council voted unanimously to allow staff to continue to work on possible scenarios that will be brought back for council consideration in the next month.