First-ever Street Child Cricket World Cup held at Lord's
Cricket gives vulnerable children fresh opportunities to develop
By Oli Burley
Last Updated: 12/05/19 1:16pm
The Home of Cricket became a haven of hope and friendship last Tuesday when it hosted the inaugural Cricket World Cup final for street-connected children.
Watch the video above to see action from the day and to hear from some of the players involved as well as from Sky Sports commentator Isa Guha and former England spinner Monty Panesar.
Tournament organisers Street Child United aim to give vulnerable children the chance to speak out about the changes which need to be made to support young people like them, including access to education, legal identity and protection from violence.
Cricket is the vehicle for creating a level playing field for these young people.
Bangladesh, India, West Indies and England as well as Nepal, Tanzania, Jamaica, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mauritius were involved in the Street Child Cricket World Cup.
The latter included 15-year-old Celina, who only started learning cricket a matter of weeks ago as part of the SAFIRE, an NGO which aims to empower street children in Mauritius.
Her experience is one that team leader Edley Maurer has come across only too often, the plight of a young child struggling to overcome significant barriers and massive lack of opportunity and support.
We want to say the biggest thank you to our #StreetChildCricketWorldCup volunteers!— Street Child United (@iStreetChild) May 11, 2019
Sam, an SCU Young Leader from Team England, said:
“SCU events couldn’t happen without the amazing volunteers. Thank you for supporting our journey!”#MorethanaGame pic.twitter.com/WmaelG8qSz
"Drugs are a big issue among young people in Mauritius because there is a lot of poverty and it is a way for children to get money to survive," he says. "Celina has first-hand experience of how damaging that can be.
"A big problem in Mauritius is that children have great difficulties in staying in mainstream education.
"There is a lot of competition and in many cases the system pushes children out of school and, unable to work, they lose their way. SAFIRE aims to help rehabilitate young people back into a society by empowering them."
Since its launch in 2002, SAFIRE has focused on improving the lives of teenagers by helping them to develop positive character traits, offer guidance and - in some cases - a route back into work.
"We cannot work with a child for one year - this has to be a long-term project," says Edley. "We want children to be their own advocates and help them achieve things they never thought possible.
"We cannot accept that some children are not considered the same as all the rest. We believe in equality and opportunity for all."
That aspiration is echoed in the work of Chief Thomas Bikebi, who runs the Congo House Reviver Cricket Team Project.
The initiative aims to help vulnerable young children by introducing cricket in the capital city, Kinshasa - a tough ask in a country where football is king.
But already, in a little over five years, some 500 youngsters and adults have participated in the project and while cricket training was initially led by international coaches, the aspiration is to nurture homegrown talent to ensure a lasting presence in Ndjili, one of the poorest regions of Kinshasa, and beyond.
England's presence in the tournament is a stark reminder that similar problems remain close to home, the side organised by homeless charity Centrepoint.
As Celina says: "There are a lot of countries taking part and the thing I'm most looking forward to is making lots of new friends."
When it comes to finding a new direction in life, there's perhaps no finer first step.
For more information on the Street Child Cricket World Cup, visit this link: https://www.streetchildunited.org/our-sports-events/street-child-cricket-world-cup-2019/ or head to the Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/iStreetChild