An international cricket tournament for street children taking place in England in the first week of May is to include a team from Bangladesh, which the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is sponsoring. Children involved will play in matches at two cricket grounds in Cambridge during the one-week Street Child Cricket World Cup, which culminates in the final at Lord's cricket ground in London.
The tournament, which is the first of its kind, will host teams from nine countries and will bring together young people from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Pakistan, India, Tanzania and Mauritius.
Bangladesh's team is made up of eight 13-17 year olds, four boys and four girls, none of whom have ever been outside of Bangladesh. Many have lost their parents or have had to leave their family homes due to difficult circumstances. They live in a residential centre (called the Peace Home) in the capital Dhaka, run by Bangladesh charity LEEDO. The organisation helps street children get back on their feet, by encouraging them to find their families or by taking them in to their centre.
UWE Bristol is the main sponsor of the Bangladesh team and has donated £6000. This money has gone towards paying for the team's airfares, some of the equipment, and the entry fees for the competition.
The players will initially attend a welcome ceremony in London on 29 April, before taking part in the contest in Cambridge on 4 and 5 May, and the final on 7 May at Lord's.
Mike Sherriff, chairman of Friends of Street Children, Bangladesh works with LEEDO and is organising the tournament's welcome event. He said: “The donation from UWE Bristol has made a huge difference. It is supporting the children during the tournament while they are in England. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.
“The children at LEEDO Peace Home are very excited about coming to the UK to take part in the Cricket World Cup tournament. They are especially keen to meet children from the other countries taking part and want to introduce them to Bangladesh and discuss improving the conditions for children throughout the world when they have no safe home in which to live."
Ray Priest, who is International Director for Asia Pacific at UWE Bristol, said: "We are proud to be sponsoring the children in the Bangladesh Street Child Cricket tournament as part of UWE Bristol's wider commitment to working with communities worldwide. Whether it be through sponsorship such as this, or through world acclaimed research, the University aims to improve the lives of people through practical engagement. This is one of many projects we are undertaking in Asia to make a real difference."
Unlike professional cricket competitions, which can last days, the tournament will involve matches with two 20-minute halves. Throughout the contest, there will also be a cultural programme for the children, and they will be given an opportunity to talk about the issues that affect them.
Although their residence in Dhaka does include some cricket games, some children on the Bangladesh team are relatively new to the sport.
On 9 May, some of the young cricketers are set to play a cricket game against the All Party Parliamentary Friends of Bangladesh group of MPs in London.
The 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup is set to take place from 30 May to 14 July in England and Wales.