Employees from Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America and Aventure Aviation faced off in Fayette County’s first cricket match held Saturday, May 2nd at Riley Field in Peachtree City. Not only was it a gorgeous spring day for the match, but supporters, family members and community members came out to enjoy both the sporting and the cultural aspects of the event, with many locals indicating this was the first time they had witnessed a cricket match.
“The ultimate intention of this cricket match (was) to have a ‘family fun day’,” said Zaheer Faruqi, President & CEO of Aventure Aviation. “We (saw) this event as a way to bring these employees together and allow them to connect with one another other. At the same time, they (could) share their love of this sport with the rest of the Fayette community.”
Inspiration for the event dates back to the fall of 2014. Panasonic executives had contacted the Fayette Chamber hoping to find ways to help employees and their families who recently moved here from South Asia assimilate and feel more connected to the community. Panasonic has approximately 300 employees from South Asia. In a follow-up to that meeting, in late 2014, the Chamber reached out to several member businesses, including Aventure Aviation, and invited their employees of South Asian descent to gather together and share needs, challenges and commonalities. One idea from that gathering was to bring the much-beloved sport of cricket to the community and invite all local residents to attend the match.
Adalene Holley, membership development manager for the Fayette Chamber of Commerce stated, “When the Chamber helped this group gather together for the first time, it was immediately apparent that all have a heritage and culture important to each of us.” Holley continued, “Traditions are supported with access to ethnic foods, sporting events, cultural and faith-based celebrations that make us feel at home, no matter where we live and work.” Beyond the match itself, Panasonic sponsored a lunch prepared and served by Khalifa Indian Restaurant in Fayetteville.
“Awareness and familiarity of other cultures is where understanding begins,” said Holley. “As we discover more about one another, we come together as a community. I love that this is a priority for Panasonic Automotive and appreciate Aventure’s leadership bringing it to fruition.”
While the May cricket match marked a first connection point for these employees from India and South Asia, the concept is directly supported in one of Fayette Visioning’s Community Team’s goal to “Welcome, connect and celebrate all residents and create new engagement opportunities” (Goal 3.2) and “Promote four multicultural events annually to connect and celebrate our community” (Goal 3.2.1). If the inaugural event is any indication of the community support, there are many good things to come.