SARASOTA — Clint Goodchild had seen it all.
A former professional cricket player, the Australian native spent years traveling the world and meeting people from all walks of life.
So, when he moved three years ago to Sarasota, Goodchild had one goal —finding familiarity.
But it wasn’t sandy beaches and a tropical climate that Goodchild was after. Rather, Goodchild sought out individuals who shared the same passion for cricket that he had developed at young age while rolling oranges off his parents’ tin roof in the Australian Outback.
He found it in the Sarasota International Cricket Club.
“I was fortunate enough to come across the Sarasota International Cricket Club and make that connection with cricket,” Goodchild says. “I started taking part socially and I never left. It really is such an interesting place.
“Cricket is the second-most played sport in the world, and we are lucky enough to have that cultural experience right here in Lakewood Ranch,” Goodchild says.
In January, Goodchild assumed his new position as SICC’s general manager, and he has since been preparing for the 2013 Thanksgiving Six-A-Side Festival. This year marks SICC’s 30th anniversary as well as the 20th anniversary of the festival.
Fifteen teams from around the world, including England, the Cayman Islands and Houston, Texas, among others, will participate in this year’s festival, which runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 1.
In addition, Sarasota will have two teams playing this year, and the New York City Police Department will field a team for the first time.
Play will begin Nov. 28 with the finals scheduled for noon Dec. 1. And, as tradition has it, the British Car Club of Southwest Florida will be on hand to complete laps of honor before the finals. Admission to the festival is free.
On Nov. 30, SICC will hold its gala dinner at The Francis in Sarasota. The event begins at 7 p.m. and includes a three-course meal. Tickets for the gala, which are $50 per person, are still available.
“It’s going to be the biggest event in 30 years — at least that’s the hope,” Goodchild says of this year’s festival. “This is one of the top cricket events within the U.S. each year. We encourage the community to come out and enjoy big hits, amazing fielding and fast bowling in a social atmosphere.”
SICC was founded in 1983 after some British residents on Siesta Key challenged some of their American friends to back-to-back games of baseball and cricket.
For 10 years, the club called Siesta Key home, playing on a parcel of land on Wilkinson Road provided by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. A large live oak tree served as the organization’s first clubhouse and a neighbor’s fence, and a pair of pit bulls, served as boundaries.
In 1993, John Clarke and Schroeder-Manatee Ranch offered SICC the use of land along University Parkway across from the Sarasota Polo Club. Members held raffles and fundraising dinners to help finance the cost of a clubhouse and a cement wicket.
“The club really started taking shape in 1995,” Goodchild says. “The move to Lakewood Ranch was the defining moment.”
Several years later, the land was scheduled for development, so SICC prepared to move to a new parcel of land farther down University Parkway.
SICC played its final game on the old field in May 2002. The clubhouse was moved to the new location in June 2002; and for the next four months the club worked diligently to transform the longtime cattle pasture into a suitable playing field.
SICC played its first game at its new permanent location in October 2002.
Two years later, cricketing legend Richie Benaud agreed to become the patron of SICC. He had opened the clubhouse in April 1994 and continues to help spread the word about cricket in this part of the world.
In 2011, the ground was named Parry Field in honor of Club President Laurence Parry, who helped found the club and develop it into what it is today.
In May, SICC founded the Florida International Cricket Academy. The academy is free for all children, ages 5 to 15. FICA provides multiple clinics throughout the year for players of all skill levels.
Today, the club owns the land outright and has since become a nonprofit organization. Over the past 30 years, the club, which is the only club in the country that is dedicated solely to cricket and owns its own land, has grown both in membership and appeal.
SICC currently has about 45 playing members from 11 countries and 30 social members. The club also plays host to several national and international clubs throughout the year.
For more information on the Sarasota International Cricket Club and the Six-A-Side Festival, visit SarasotaICC.com. For more information on the Florida International Cricket Academy, visit www.floridainternationalcricketacademy.com.
IF YOU GO
20th annual Six-A-Side Festival
When: Nov. 28 through Dec. 1
Details: Fifteen teams from around the world will compete. Event is free to the public.
SICC Dinner Gala
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 30, at The Francis, 1262 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota
Details: Guests will enjoy a three-course meal and auction.
Info: Contact Sarasota International Cricket Club General Manager Clint Goodchild at 726-6814 or [email protected].
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].