On Tuesday 19th July, the summer finally arrived just in time for the inaugural fixture between the Aldridge Cricket Academy and a team from the Refugee Cricket Project (RCP) in London. The match was hosted at the Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre at BACA and the ACA won the toss and elected to bat in 30 degree heat.
Openers, Will Hutchings and Bryce Hounsome, got off to a flying start with 53 runs in the first 6 overs before Hutchings fell to an LBW decision. Hounsome, who was captaining the side, continued to amass yet more runs for Aldridge retiring on 102 with 5 overs left of the innings. Awais Malik and Tom Morrissey both put on 50 partnerships with Hounsome. Aldridge ended up on 216-6 off their 30 overs. In reply the RCP team played some very attacking cricket with several maximums hit. However, wickets fell regularly and in particular they had no real reponse to the excellent spell of off spin bowling from Tom Morrissey who ended up with figures of 4-22 off 6 overs. Wicket keeper, Rob Burgh took two excellent high catches. Aldridge ended up bowling RCP out for a very spirited 156.
This match was played in a superb spirit with some excellent skills on show from both sides. It will become a regular fixture in the Aldridge Cricket Academy programme.
Information about the Refugee Cricket Project:
The Refugee Council’s Children’s Section supports around 2,000 separated (unaccompanied) children seeking asylum every year and provides practical advice, support and advocacy. The children come from various war-torn countries and a significant percentage of them are teenage boys from Afghanistan who are often fleeing threats from political groups. They are at risk of being killed, of imprisonment or of forced recruitment as suicide bombers usually as an act of revenge because, for example, their father has been an interpreter for the Western forces. To prevent this happening their families make the agonising decision to arrange for them to be smuggled out of Afghanistan to escape these threats. Their journeys have usually taken months and been traumatic and dangerous.Some of our clients have been separated from their siblings on the way and many of them have spent time in the ‘Jungle’ in Calais.
The Refugee Cricket Project (the “RCP”) is a specialist project within the Children’s Section which runs weekly at a cricket centre and provides our clients with the opportunity to play cricket and also access advice and support in relation to immigration and welfare issues. The RCP is run by the Refugee Council in partnership with The Change Foundation, a charity based in south London formerly called Cricket for Change. The Refugee Council became aware a few years ago that lots of the boys, particularly those from Afghanistan, were passionate about cricket and arranged a few informal cricket activities as a simple way of bringing some pleasure to this often bewildered and despondent group. However we began to realise that playing cricket was a very effective way of improving the children’s English, building their confidence and introducing them to Britain and the British way of life. As a result, in 2009 we established the RCP to provide the children with these benefits.
As the RCP became established it rapidly became obvious that, in addition to having the chance to develop their cricket skills and meet their friends in a safe environment, the children also wanted advice on both their asylum claims and on welfare issues. The Refugee Council, therefore, set up a weekly advice surgery at the Project that operates concurrently with the cricket practices. The RCP has continued since then on this basis offering over 50 children and young people year round cricket coaching, the opportunity to play matches against a range of opposition teams from the MCC downwards, assistance with playing in mainstream local clubs, a tour outside London in the summer (if possible) and delivering over 250 advice and advocacy sessions annually with follow up support.