A World Cup win for children in blue

Street children trump England in the Street Child Cricket World Cup.

May 08, 2019 09:46 am | Updated 09:46 am IST - CHENNAI

Lording it at Lord’s: Team South India, winners of the Street Child Cricket World Cup.

Lording it at Lord’s: Team South India, winners of the Street Child Cricket World Cup.

A month shy of the ICC World Cup Cricket, another team in blue scored what might seem in the context of a larger picture, a modest victory of sorts at Lord’s. For the children, the winners of the Street Child Cricket World Cup, 2019, however, it was the biggest achievement of their short, very rough life.

Team South India beat Team England in the finals that were held at the Lord’s cricket ground on Tuesday. The event was organised by Street Child United in the U.K.

The team captained by V. Paulraj, from Chennai, was ably assisted by vice-captain Mani Ratinam of Mumbai who scored a six off the last ball. The team comprised A. Nagalakshmi, B. Monisha, K. Suryaprakash and Bhavani Veerakannu (Mohammed Irfan and Shama Moaaz Siddiqui were the substitutes). The team of children, who live on the streets in Chennai and Mumbai, lost only one game (against England) in the first round, throughout the league, and beat England in the finals, scoring 47, against the rivals’ 42 runs.

“We reached London on April 28,” says Paul Sundar Singh, founder of Karunalaya, an NGO taking care of children living on the streets. The Mumbai children were tutored and guided by the NGO Magic Bus. Clearly the children were not in a position to find resources for their travel and stay in England, and there has been a fair bit of borrowing the NGO has had to resort to, he adds.

Even if they had not spent hours planning or sweating over a triumph, playing the game formally for the first time, as they were, victory was something the children wore, easily, and with great joy. And when they had an opportunity to speak at the general assembly of street children, they remembered why they were there in the first place.

Taking the place on the podium, B. Monisha from Chennai spoke on behalf of the children, talking of how difficult it was to live on the streets, and how safety for women and children on the streets can never be taken for granted. She finished with an entreaty to the adults: “If you respect us, you will listen to us, if you listen to us, you will protect us. Please protect us.”

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