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Kids in blue: Meet the Indian team that won the Street Child Cricket World Cup

We’re out of the running for the ICC trophy, but these teenagers from the streets of India competed with seven countries and won.

cricket Updated: Jul 11, 2019 20:00 IST
Hindustan Times
Street children,Cricket,ICC World Cup
The tournament format is called the Street-20. It is played by 8-member squads with an equal number of boys and girls per team.

There is tension between the cricket teams of India and England. India needs just one run to win the World Cup final. An Indian batsman ends the silence with a six. There’s deafening applause from the stands. That was how the first-ever Street Child Cricket World Cup ended, on May 7.

It was held at the iconic Lord’s stadium in London, and eight countries — India, England, the West Indies, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tanzania, Mauritius and the Congo — participated. Matches were played from April 30 on, by teams of teens aged 14 to 17, all from marginalised communities, some living in care homes run by NGOs. India was the only country represented by two teams, India North and India South; the latter won.

The format was unique. It’s called Street-20, and is played by 8-member squads with an equal number of boys and girls per team. “I played cricket on the streets before this. Now I want to improve in the sport and play in the Ranji trophy,” says Paulraj V, 17, from Chennai. The victory is especially precious, he adds, because he worked with a goods company, loading and unloading trucks, to pay for things like cricket gloves and bat.

The Cup was organised by Street Child United, a London-based NGO working for the welfare of street children.

The children had eight months of practice sessions, twice a day. “We were given diagrams of fielding positions. Mentors explained the rules with charts,” says Nagalakshmi A., 17, who lives in a shelter home in Karunalaya. “I had to practice a lot for the batting because I didn’t really have a proper swing.”

The match consisted of 5 overs of 4 balls each. When a batting player scores 15 runs, they must retire to give an opportunity to another player. Suryaprakash K and Monisha B from Chennai, Manirathnam, Bhavani Mayavan, Irfan Labbe and Shamma Siddiqui from Mumbai were the other players on the team.

It was a struggle to get the kids to London, says N Paul Sunder Singh, founder and secretary of the NGO Karunalaya Social Service Society. “We are in debt now, and we are yet to pay our flight tickets. This is the situation for street child programmes. Our finance deficit was uploaded on our Facebook page before we left.”

Their goal is to provide children with an opportunity to shine. “These children have a rough life. We want to create a platform where their hard work is recognised,” Singh adds. His plan is to host the Street Child Cricket World Cup in India. “In 2023, the ICC World Cup will be hosted by India. And our gully cricket stars will have their tournament during that season, preferably in Chennai,” he says.

The Cup was organised by Street Child United, a London-based NGO working for the welfare of street children. The India north team was supported by NGOs Hope Foundation and Save the Children, while the winning team (India south) was supported by NGOs Karunalaya Foundation and Magic Bus.

First Published: Jul 11, 2019 20:00 IST