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