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Transforming lives overseas

Overseas, we are working to provide life-changing opportunities through cricket and to open up access to the game. We harness the transformative power of cricket and the MCC brand to encourage personal development and positive social change, and to promote strong and cohesive communities.

In 2021 we launched a transformative project to support young Syrian refugees in Lebanon by funding two cricket Hubs which provide skills, hope, and opportunity to children living in the Bekaa Valley and Shatila refugee camps.

Those two Hubs quickly became four (and are soon to become six), all of which are delivered by Alsama Cricket, and provide six hours of coaching and match play every week year-round. The Hubs are a lifeline for the young refugees struggling to survive in the challenging environment of these camps after witnessing the unimaginable horrors of war.

Earlier this year, we were delighted to be joined by MCC President, Clare Connor, and CEO, Guy Lavender, on an eye-opening trip to Beirut. The children of Alsama are truly inspirational; their ability to smile and show great strength and perseverance in the face of everything they have been through in Syria and are now enduring in the camps is remarkable.

Shatila, a 1km square encampment housing between 20-40,000 Syrian and Palestinian refugees, sprawls vertically. Its poorly constructed homes are perched impossibly one on top of another in a desperate bid to house its abandoned people, until the sky is obliterated and the damp seeps in, pervading every inch of habitation. Living here is an existence, a survival, a life devoid of hope. It is a similar story at the 2 other camps out of which Alsama works - Bekaa and Bourj el-Barajneh.

Cricket goes hand in hand with the education offered by Alsama at the 3 camps and a recent survey showed how those who play cricket are thriving in the classroom. The cricket offers so much - not just the confidence and sense of a team, the self-discipline and the mental wellbeing from playing a sport, but a real chance to forget any anxieties and to be a child. The young cricketers are fiercely competitive and totally committed and play every week of the year. There is no green space in the camp, so buses are arranged to take them to playgrounds. Now, some of the original players are so good, that they have become junior coaches to the new hubs and are developing great skills as teachers and leaders.

On the penultimate day of our trip, a tournament was held between all the Hubs. They come together at the playground, representatives from the British Embassy and journalists in attendance, and 12 teams battle fiercely to win the coveted prize of a bat signed by the entire Pakistan cricket team. It is incredible how many children are playing cricket and how many of them display real talent. It is an inspiration for us to see our projects in action and to realise that all our efforts to support are bearing such fruit and bringing such joy.

Alsama was founded by Meike Ziervogel and Richard Verity, both of whom remain passionately involved in the project.

 

Watch the uplifting short film on our 2022 trip to Lebanon with MCC

 

FULL DIRECTOR'S REPORT

There is huge passion for cricket in Nepal, but a lack of investment and infrastructure. Working with key partners including Kidasha, Connecting Clubs, Cricket Without Boundaries, and MCC, we are providing life-enhancing opportunities through cricket for young people and supporting Nepal's ambitions to become a great cricketing nation.

We are currently delivering in schools across Pokhara and Biratnagar, helping young people to access and progress through the game by building facilities, providing kit, up-skilling local teachers and coaches to deliver cricket, and running festivals and competitions. The cricket sessions also incorporate gender equality messaging, and are empowering girls to take part in sport and reach their full potential.

Many of the children we work with are from some of the country’s most disadvantaged slum communities, and lack access to sport and recreation. Cricket gives them a rare opportunity to play and escape their daily struggles while also improving physical and mental well-being. Several players have gone on to be selected for district and provincial cricket teams and now dream of playing for their country after playing cricket for the first time through one of our projects.

The following video shows some highlights from MCC's Legacy Tour to Nepal in 2019, when MCC players delivered cricket sessions at some of the schools we are working with in Pokhara.

 

ANGUS BERRY NEPAL BLOG 2022