“The Pursuit of Happyness”, and the Bollywood movie, “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”.
Irfan Bangash was born into a family of five brothers and two sisters in Pakistan. He was a typical child who loved playing cricket with his friends and siblings. Irfan explains that growing up in that male-dominated culture, his mother did not have the opportunity to pursue her own education so instead, she encouraged her children to do so. She encouraged her children to study hard, and got Irfan to improve his grades which allowed him to attend university in Minnesota where he completed degrees in Computer Science and Finance followed by a Masters Degree in Public Administration. This importance of education was also echoed by Irfan’s grandfather, who was a social and political activist. He encouraged Irfan and his siblings to be smart, strong, and giving community members.
Like many people, Irfan came to Fort McMurray with a plan to work hard and make a lot of money. When he arrived here in 2011, Irfan was working three jobs, rushing around busily and not enjoying the free time he had. That was until he fell back in love with the sport of cricket. Irfan was essential in uniting the immigrant community in Fort McMurray, to start the Fort McMurray Cricket Association. When the Association started, they barely had enough players to field two teams. They very often needed players to switch back and forth between teams so that a game could happen. After years of work, outreach, and promotion, the Association has grown to seven full teams!
The goals that Irfan has for his future directly relate back to his two the two most influential things in his life: education, and cricket. Irfan wants to continue growing cricket in our region, and across the province, introducing more people to the sport he loves so dearly. Secondly, Irfan has a goal to build a school in Pakistan for underprivileged kids, in his grandfather’s name. “I was lucky to have such great education and we need to give back, and provide those opportunities to children. That is what he worked for and I want to help with that.”