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A GROUP of spirited fishermen have swapped their nets for bats and set up Portavogie’s first cricket team.

The recreational team, which is made up mainly of migrant workers from India, was set up recently in the local fishing village.

Spending their summers on a boat in Portavogie, the contracted fishermen have been spotted over the years playing cricket on their days off among each other, while enjoying a laugh.

However, this year, the workers have arranged matches with other local migrant workers in Ards and North Down, as well as a young team of local boys, in the hope of including a bit of competition in their recreational fun.

Portavogie man, Jim Thompson, the skipper of the fishermen, said the team had so far played matches this year at Ward Park in Bangor and at their training ground – the fish market down by the harbour in the village.

“The fishermen have always been playing cricket. They come every summer for work and they play a game of cricket on their days off,” Jim explained.

Jim told how the enthusiastic fishermen had their own cricket jerseys created, each brandished with the names of their own boats.

“The fishermen come as contract workers but start to return home now for the winter months,” Jim continued. “By November most of them, if not all of them, will be away home.”

Jim explained how he had been working with some of his contract workers for the last seven years and that every summer they enjoyed playing the game on their days off among themselves.

But now, with other teams to play, the fishermen look forward to docking for the weekend to enjoy some training and matches.

Speaking about his employees, Jim stated: “They all love their cricket and are into it in a very big way.

“When the World Cup was on they had to get sitting down to watch every time India was playing.”

The newly formed team recently played a match with a makeshift team of local under 18 year-olds and, much to the dismay of the younger cohort, the Portavogie cricket team won.

“The Indian guys beat the young guys at cricket, so now the young guys want to arrange a football match,” Jim laughed.

With age range of 20-40, Jim said the recreational games were ‘all a bit of fun’ for the contract workers and gave them a ‘bit of relaxation’ after a long week of work.

With the winter months starting to roll in, the migrant workers are now starting to return home, with hopes of returning in February again for work.

Speaking about his employees, Jim said: “They are good lads. There can be a lot of bad publicity about migrant workers and I think this team is a wee bit of good news.

“They are good lads always and are very trustworthy. I would trust them with my life.”

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