Cricket Canada and Abu Dhabi Based Etihad Airways have announced a partnership agreement. Through the agreement Etihad will become an official event partner and national program sponsor with Cricket Canada.

Shortly after signing the agreement in Toronto, Cricket Canada president Ranjit Saini spoke about the historic agreement.

"Cricket Canada welcomes Etihad Airways as an important partner in our development as a premiere cricket nation. This partnership will remove cost barriers for our youth to access high quality academies worldwide. Additionally our teams will be within reach of premiere cricket destinations where we can play against high quality opposition and receive high performance coaching"

Saini also spoke about Canada's unique challenges in breaking onto the world cricket stage.

“The partnership with Etihad Airways helps us to remove the financial obstacles created by geographic challenges. We can now move our teams around the world more frequently and at a reduced cost. We can more readily explore the growing options to bring quality international and domestic fixtures to Canada and it gives us the opportunity to extend the reach of our high performance program while strengthening our international board relationships... a win-win situation for us." Saini continued.

“While we should commend the achievements made in the past few years by our High Performance program to take us as far as we've come, we are under-resourced for a nation of our size and cricket population. This program ensures that players such as Rustam (Bhatti), Manny (Aulakh), Waleed (Ahmad) and others will be able to further hone their skills in the time between youth programs and when they reach the senior men's team. “

The agreement is inclusive of all Cricket Canada's events and is also targeted towards Canada's Development Squad. Through the deal, Etihad will provide Cricket Canada with round trip airfare for Canada's elite development players to academies and coaching programs around the world as well as provide a significant capital contribution towards bringing high performance teams to Canada.

Etihad is the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates. The airline has experienced significant growth in recent years and has moved into significant corporate sponsorships world wide. Cricket Canada joins Manchester City Football Club, The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as part of the stable of sports properties sponsored by Etihad.

Justin Gosling, Etihad's country manager for Canada was pleased to join forces with Cricket Canada.

“Etihad Airways is thrilled and honoured to team up with Cricket Canada and to support this exciting team in their 2011 season. Not only do we share many common formulas, like teamwork, dedication and determination but also one main goal; to be the best we can, so this is a great opportunity to team up with Cricket Canada now and for the future and together we will show the world our winning spirit”

The agreement with Etihad is the third major partnership announced by Cricket Canada this quarter. Earlier in November Cricket Canada inked deals with Mercury Communications Group and clothing giant Reebok.