Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

Over the boundary, to Lord’s

Eight from city in street kids’ world cup

By Chandreyee Ghose in Calcutta
  • Published 10.02.19, 2:21 AM
  • Updated 10.02.19, 2:21 AM
  • a min read
Save the Children players gear up for a practice session at Rabindra Sarovar. The Telegraph picture

Md. Waris dropped out of school when he was seven. He spent all day making caps for a living instead. But life took a reverse sweep for the 14-year-old from Broad Street when he picked up a cricket bat a few months ago.

Waris is among eight boys and girls from the city selected for the first Street Children Cricket World Cup 2019 to be held at Lord’s in April-May, ahead of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Around 20 children from two NGOs — Save the Children and Hope Kolkata Foundation — have been practising for a few hours thrice a week at Rabindra Sarovar since December.

Two teams from India will take part in the tournament organised by Street Child United that will see 80 children from nine countries competing. India will send two teams — India North and India South. The city kids are part of the North team.

Cricket has also given Waris the impetus to return to school. “I need to study to communicate better and also to know about different places, especially England,” said the Class VIII student, who has already appeared for his passport interview.

England and Lord’s are unfamiliar words for most of the kids as they gear up to fly to Cambridge on April 30.

“I hardly knew much about cricket. I would just watch roadside matches when I had the time,” said Saraswati Kumari Dhanu.

But regular practice at Barun Barman Cricket Academy in Rabindra Sarobar has given the 16-year-old much-needed confidence. “I think I am a better bowler. I want to show the world girls can play as well as boys,” said the Class XI student whose family lives in a single-room shanty near EJC dock junction in Mominpore.

A 14-year-old boarder at a Hope Kolkata Foundation home in Tollygunge is excited at the opportunity to play at the venue where India won its first World Cup.

His friend from a girls’ shelter home in Kasba is eager for a taste of English bakeries. “I have read about the London Bridge. Maybe I will get to see it,” gushed the Class IX student.

Chittapriyo Sadhu, general manager — state programme (West Bengal and Assam) of Save the Children, sees this as a “great opportunity for kids to play, interact and become aware of their rights”. “It is a platform to recognise the voices and dreams of these vulnerable children,” said Geeta Venkadakrishnan, Hope Kolkata Foundation director.