We have come so far as a cricket team originating from Bombay Port Trust community just a year ago. We have trained as a team, learned lessons about leadership, gender equality, respect and kindness for each other and the experience of winning and losing with the many emotions which go along with those moments.
We travelled on our first overnight train with 6 teams from across India (Delhi, Kolkata, Orissa) and a team from Mauritius. We participated in art projects recording our train journey from the time we left our homes and our parents to the sights and sounds of spending 25 hours together, traveling 1,300 kilometres from the North West Coast to the South East Coast of India. With the train windows open, the monsoon rains and breeze kept us cool.
An international team of film makers, documentarians and photographers recorded our journey from tearful start to joyous finish. The creative team instructed our youths individually as they recorded the journey in an art project.
Our food was delivered efficiently to the platforms along the way with the youths delighted by every bite. The night was lively ending by dancing in our bunks to the sounds of Team Mauritius playing the drums.
The monsoon rains and heat of Chennai could not dampen our spirits. The World Cup bell was rung by the British High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner of Chennai with great ceremony as if Lord’s was hosting us once again. The tournament was played at Amir Mahal, the private grounds of the Prince of Arcot, with generous support from the Shree Dayaa Foundation as well as from Mrs. Latha Rajinikanth, Indian producer, singer and wife of actor Rajinikanth.
For 11 days we bowled, batted, and fielded all the while making new friends from 19 different teams originating in 13 different countries. We heard new languages and music, watched team dances from around the world, but most importantly at the end of each evening danced with all the athlete and volunteers. We even had our own “Cobra Dance”, our signature, when celebrating on and off the pitch. We lost, we won, all the while wiping tears of both disappointment and joy. Most importantly, we tried our very best in supporting each other’s gender and abilities. When we lost we were comforted by our teammates and new friends.
When our team was playing a crucial game against the strongest Indian team from Group C, our resilience, teamwork, competitiveness and sense of fair play were at the forefront. We won and celebrated by leaping for joy and dancing. We placed 5th out of 19 teams with our teammate Asif receiving the Golden Bat and MVP awards. We celebrated him! We celebrated us! We celebrated it all! Sport for development is our mission and our commitment of 25 years in the Bombay Port Trust community was front and centre stage just then.
Just as important as cricket are the Arts and Advocacy platforms. In closed door Congress sessions, we discussed and shared our thoughts on what changes we would like to see in our communities.
We found new words to describe our feelings and our thoughts in our communities . We wanted to bring awareness in making our surroundings safer, healthier, and better informed while having better access to education and healthcare. We were interviewed by The Hindu newspaper, Your Story, digital media, and at the end of the tournament by ABP Nadu, the first Tamil digital only news platform with our youths speaking in both Tamil and Hindi.
The Declaration of our Team Cobras at the Congress was
“Healthcare is world care, Boy’s care is girl’s care, We care, please all care!”
The Voices of the Chennai Congress were loud and clear.
“It is the implementation of rights that we seek, not the existence of them.”
The World Cup volunteers, 75 from 35 different countries, surrounded us with support when we needed it, as well as unconditional love and generosity of spirit. Our youths embraced their warmth each and every day. How to say good bye? An experience of a lifetime, a platform they never imagined, exposure to new young people, international adults and a new city.
The flight home was their first, the first time to look down from the skies, to raise their trophy in their hands high above the clouds and to be so proud of how far they have come.
We brought closure on our home field with discussions on lessons
learned, how to use our new found confidence and feeling of freedom and
how to raise our voices in our communities highlighting our demands. We
did not come home with the Gold Cup this tournament as we did in 2019
but the lessons learned along the way were certainly platinum.
As an organization, we know that these 8 youths will now be ambassadors of change in their community making Magic Bus, Bloomberg and Bombay Port Trust proud.
We, as street connected children, have been supported and encouraged to use this Street Child Cricket World Cup platform to be loud and proud as we raise our voices for all to hear. There is not a moment to waste.
We demand change and we demand it now.
“I am Somebody, You Are Somebody, We Are All Somebody”.