Updated 21st May 2019
The Long Room will never be the same
On Tuesday 7th May 2019 a strange thing happened at the home of cricket. Eight international teams were at the ground but only two teams to play the final of an international tournament, both finalist, England and India South would pass through the Long Room, down the terrace and out onto the hollowed turf, passing the white wicket fence as many have before, to play the finals day at Lord’s.
The players from these eight teams were aged between 13 and 17 and were from seven different countries: Bangladesh, England, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Tanzania and The West Indies. They all had one thing in common – they were all homeless street cricketers.
They had been brought to Lords from around the world for the inaugural Street Child Cricket World Cup with the aim of highlighting the plight of street children and the problems they face back in their places of birth.
Among them were:
Paul Raj, 17, the captain of the South India team, who lives in a plastic shelter opposite Chennai station with his parents and two brothers, with no clean water or sanitation of any kind. Running in front of the shelter is what he calls a gutter, but it sounds like it is more of an open sewer.
Sopna Akter, 16, from Bangladesh ran away from home when her parents tried to marry her off at 12 years old. She wanted to be a doctor so she traveled to Dhaka where she was rescued by “Leedo” while living on the streets.
Jackline Dotto Krabohya, 16, was raised by her single mother and didn’t have enough to eat. She was helped off the streets by “New Chapter”. She said that all children should be educated, have healthcare and to get help to get off the streets of Tanzania.
Angelo Babiche, 13, said he was proud that he was the best batsman in his team. He lives in Mauritius with his parents but he doesn’t have enough to eat and he has never been to school, which makes him feel inferior but he is now getting some vocational training and basic lessons.
Back here at home in England, I see headlines such as “Children in care abandoned to the gangs”. It seems that we have the same problem here, so we should listen to the words of Angelo. “even if it works out for me in the end, what about all the other children on the streets”.
Wise words from one so young.
Original Source material by Jo Griffin published in The Big Issue 13-19th May