The Refugee Cricket Project is ‘like our home’

The Refugee Cricket Project was set up by the Refugee Council and Cricket for Change (now part of the The Change Foundation family) to offer advice, support and a sporting outlet for young asylum seekers who arrived in the UK alone as children.

As part of the Refugee Week celebrations, a team of young asylum seekers and refugees are set to take on a team of Parliamentarians.The match marks the fifth anniversary of the Refugee Cricket Project.

One of the players, Abdul, reflects on what the project means to him.

Abdul is originally from Afghanistan. His father had been an interpreter for western forces and as a result, his family were targeted by the Taliban – both Abdul’s father and brother disappeared and Abdul was told that his brother’s throat had been slit. Desperate to save him from the same fate, Abdul’s family arranged for an ‘agent’ to help him escape. He was 14.

After a long and arduous journey at the hands of dangerous people smugglers, Abdul found himself in the UK and has since been recognised as a refugee. He is currently studying plumbing and hopes to open his own business in the future.

Abdul said: “Children are affected by war: you don’t know what’s happening but you see a lot of things. Everyone knows what’s been happening in Afghanistan.

“When I arrived in the UK I was scared; I didn’t want to tell people what had happened to me; you can’t trust people straight away.

“Coming to the Refugee Cricket Project has made me more confident. It’s like our home. When we’re not here, my friends and I are thinking about our past or our papers but when you come here you feel happier.”

Abdul is confident the young team might beat the Parliamentarians, saying: “We can bat, we can bowl and we’re hard workers. We beat the MCC so hopefully we’re going to win!”

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Photo courtesy of Stephane Gripari

Chris Gayle Academy Jamaica Launch Success

Thursday 5th June 2014 saw the successful launch of The Chris Gayle Academy at Lucas Cricket Club in Kingston.

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Lucas CC, where the mighty Chris Gayle, started playing his cricket, was host to the Chris Gayle London team and various partners, as Chris, The Chris Gayle Foundation and The Change Foundation (sports charity from the UK), emotionally launched the Jamaica Academy.

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The London based Chris Gayle Academy was launched by Chris back in May 2014.  The launch is also part of a tour by the UK based Academy.  The UK team took on the Jamaica team in a T2o with the UK side running out winners!

The UK squad tour will involve various visiting local Kingston schools and doing TV and Radio interviews to help promote the great work that the Chris Gayle Academy Jamaica will be doing with young people on the island.

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The Chris Gayle Academies London & Jamaica are run as a partnership between Cricket for Change and The Chris Gayle Foundation. The CGA was set up with the hope of unlocking the potential in talented young people from inner-city communities, while helping them to become role models in their respective communities and society as a whole.  Both CGA programmes deliver (the one in London being run from the charity’s HQ in Wallington) through a series of year round and weekly community based cricket based education sessions, cricket festivals with strong educational messaging and employability workshops and work placements.

For more visit The Chris Gayle Academy pages here

Dance for Change begins in style

Dance for Change began in style at Peckham Pulse last week and this week (21st May) with sessions being led by the Dance for Change team and Coach Hakeem Onibudo (Director of Impact Dance). More news to follow on how … read more

Inspiring Young People Celebrate Awards Night

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On a beautiful and early summer’s evening on banks of the River Thames and in view of the stunning Tower Bridge, the third ‘Hit The Top’ Awards took place.

It was an evening that acknowledged the hard work of the many young people that take part in The Change Foundation’s disability sports programme, ‘Hit The Top’.   The evening organised and planned young people from the charity’s ‘Team Tufnell’ programme, proved to everyone there (and on Twitter!) that young people can be who they want to be and not what society thinks they should be.

Also attending were the many parents, teachers and volunteers saw awards for ‘Best Moment’ through to ‘Best Team’ and ‘Coach of the Year’ being given to young people who stood out as role models among their peers and others in the things that they take part in and do everyday.  Not everyone received awards but ‘all’ the young people there on the night received recognition for their great achievements as well.

Special thanks to Norton Rose Fulbright for the provision of a fantastic venue on a memorable night!

Dance for Change in proud partnership with Dance UK

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Beth Evans and Jim Fletcher with The Sugar Dandies.

On Sunday 6 April, Dance for Change Programme Director, Jim Fletcher and Programme Coordinator, Beth Evans, supported a Fundraising Tea Dance at The Royal Ballet School in London’s Covent Garden. The event – hosted by Britain’s Got Talent’s The Sugar Dandies – was to raise money for Dance UK (the dance industry’s advocacy group) and ADAD (The Association of Dance of the African Diaspora).

More than 140 guests including Dame Gillian Lynn, Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin Ohare, Richard Alston and Akram Khan were treated to a range of performances. These included The Royal Ballet’s Valentino Zucchetti, tap dancer Annette Walker, and Rambert Dance Company who danced an excerpt from Christopher Bruce’s Rooster to music by The Rolling Stones.

Darcey Bussell, CBE comes to lunch

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Left to right: Carolyn McCall, Jim Fletcher and Darcey Bussell CBE.

On Friday 21 March at the Delauney in London’s Theatreland, Carolyn McCall CEO of Easyjet, hosted a lunch with guest of honour Darcey Bussell CBE for her network of ladies who are leaders in their various fields. The aim was to raise awareness of our new programme – Dance4Change – and to seek prospective ambassadors and supporters. To our delight, our guests engaged with the concept and there was animated discussion, challenge and comment. It is clear that Dance4Change now has support in the business arena as well in social action and the dance world.

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Groundbreaking Asian Cricket Awards – C4C Legacy Partner

Cricket for Change has been officially announced as ‘Legacy Partner’ of the Talk Home Mobile Asian Cricket Awards. The launch (on 28th March 2014) event was hosted at Lord’s Cricket Ground saw the big hitters of the cricket world in attendance.

Former England cricketers, Isa Guha, Vikram Solanki, Wasim Khan MBE and Min Patel were joined by members of the prestigious judging panel, including Baroness Warsi and the CEO of Grange Hotels, Tony Matharu.

Alasdair Ramsay, Communications Manager said, “Cricket for Change is immensely proud to have been chosen as ‘Legacy Partner’ for such a groundbreaking initiative. We are excitedly looking forward to helping make great strides in seeing how we can support and develop the passion of cricket within the south Asian cricketing community”.

Online nominations will open on May 1, from which the winners will be chosen by a diverse panel of judges, ranging from former players to Baroness Warsi, who was in attendance at the launch.

Isa Guha, former England international cricketer and ambassador for the awards, spoke of the importance of the inclusion of the Women in Cricket Award. “I think it’s really important if you are trying to create equality by supporting Asian communities that there is a female award,” she said. “Cricket is a religion in south Asian countries and you’ll often see families who are playing the park – the sisters, the mums they’re all getting involved and they love the game just as much as the men do.”

A total of 12 honours will be presented at Lords on October 7 2014, including a Grassroots Award, Woman in Cricket Award, Coach of the Year prize and Professional Player of the Year Award.

Baljit Rihal Co-Founder of the Asian Cricket Awards said, “The Asian Cricket Awards were devised to acknowledge the huge contribution that South Asians make to all aspects of this wonderful sport and as such, this is the first ever event dedicated to celebrating their involvement.”

To find out more about The Asian Cricket Awards go to: www.asiancricketawards.co.uk

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Creating positive change for young women in sport

Great excitment here at the excellent news that C4C’s Beth Evans and Navjeet Sira have been invited to present and talk about the UK’s first and only All Female Visually Impaired cricket team at The 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport in Helsinki.

The event which takes place June 12 – 15, 2014 at Helsinki’s premiere conference venue, Finlandia Hall will be under the overall theme of ‘Lead the Change – Be the Change.

The conference combines theory, policy, and practice in the area of women and sport and brings together decision-makers, politicians, researchers, educators and students, coaches and athletes with the aim of advancing the dialogue around women in sports and creating positive change.

Their presentation will examine the development of the first female VI cricket team in the UK and their journey. They will share their life-changing moments and their dream to travel to Nepal to play in the first ever female internationally VI cricket match. The courage of the team will blaze a trail for other disability female teams across all sports. It is important to realise the importance of female only teams, especially within disability sport which has very low levels of female participation. It is clear something needs to be done to inspire change.

This excellent news shows the great work that C4C does amongst young people, in this instance, for and in young women, all of which rightly gains the attention of sports movers and influencers.

Follow this link to find out more on the UK’s first All Female Visually Impaired team!

There is a lot more to life than the Six Nations!

As the Six Nations gathers pace towards an exciting finale, C4C’s Mike Henderson is a highlighted success in Robert Kitson’s, of The Guardian, article published on Sat. 1st March 2014, which discusses Sky’s fly on the wall programme, ‘School of Hard Knocks’.

The following is an extract from that aforementioned arrticle:

“It is the latest lesson from the School of Hard Knocks, the unique collision of rugby union, fly-on-the-wall television documentary and disadvantaged young adults which should be compulsory viewing in all middle-class households when its seventh series starts on Sky in September………..

…..Michael Henderson, a grateful graduate from the 2010 Croydon edition and now a mentor himself after spending 25 years in and out of prison, reckons the programme saved him from oblivion. “My life now is so far removed from the life I had. Being involved was such an empowering and positive experience.” England versus Wales, even the Six Nations itself, suddenly feels like a parallel universe.

The 43-year-old Henderson, who was first incarcerated at 14, also feels rugby has intrinsic qualities other sports cannot offer. “The football culture is all about gold and glory: I want to be the next Messi, I want a million-pound pay cheque. The difference in rugby is that it’s not a one-man show.

“The other day I visited Isis young offenders prison (next door to HMP Belmarsh in south-east London) where we had governors and prisoners playing against each other. We find rugby brings people together. There was no ‘I’m going to get you, I’m going to hurt you’. It was just epic.”

Epic, certainly, but how about the wider picture? While no one is expecting rugby to conquer every big conurbation overnight, next year’s Rugby World Cup will spread the gospel. The inspirational Henderson reckons there is a large untapped audience out there. “A lot of young people have a misconceived perception of rugby. When they actually get playing it they go: ‘Wow.’

“We work with schools which are marginalised, disaffected and disadvantaged. Initially many of the students didn’t want to play. Now, two years on, they’re embracing it and playing regularly because it allows them to channel negative energy in a positive way. For me, not enough people are informed about the benefits of rugby.”

The moral of the story? There is a lot more to life than the Six Nations”. The full artcicle by The Gurdian’s Robert Kitson can be found here.

Mike Henderson works on our Dallaglio Foundation Rugby for Change programme.