On Monday afternoon, amid a few announcements being made over a loudspeaker at the Amir Mahal Cricket ground, a number of young cricketers were getting ready to play their heart out.
As many as 170 children from 13 countries are now in Chennai to participate in the Street Child Cricket World Cup 2023, organised by The Street Child United in partnership with Shree Dayaa Foundation.
“I’ve been playing cricket for the last three years and I’m excited about participating this year,” said P. Vignesh, a member of the India Tigers team from Chennai.
The team comprises children from Karunalaya Social Service Society, a city-based NGO.
In their group-stage match against another Indian team, India Crocodiles, Vignesh scored two sixes and led his team to a victory. “There are many concerns that street children have. Our families should be given proper houses, many of us don’t have access to bathrooms and there are several children who don’t have any identity document,” he said.
There are several children like Vignesh from across the world participating in the second edition of this tournament.
Apart from seven teams representing various parts of India, there are teams from Bangladesh, Burundi, Hungary, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, England, Uganda, Zimbabwe.
For the first few days of the tournament, all the teams will compete in group-stage matches. On Monday, three matches were played simultaneously in different parts of the ground, and each innings comprised five overs of four balls each.
Speaking about the issues faced by these children, John Wroe, co-founder, CEO, Street Child United, said identity and accessibility were the main themes this year.
“Many children are unable to access basic identity documents and this usually means they cannot access schools, legally get married and only work as a part-time in the informal economy. The ‘One million and One’ campaign aims to address this, and support one million children across the world,” he said.
Mr. Wroe said that all the children were participating in good spirit, and were aware of the bigger goal being bringing about lasting change for street children.
For several participating teams, the run up to the tournament has also been about working as a team and discovering their love for cricket.
Phil Bigirimana, the coordinator for the team from Burundi, said that it was a whole new experience for the team to learn and master playing the sport. “We are very excited about the tournament and are looking forward to the next few days,” he added.