A week in the life of a 16-year-old cricket player from India
Last week, Lusi competed for Team India North at the Street Child Cricket World Cup in Cambridge, U.K. The tournament uses the power of cricket to tackle the stigma faced by street-connected children and to encourage countries, governments and communities to better support them. For her edition of Roll Call, Lusi describes what it was like to play in the tournament.
Today was an exciting day! I went to a local school in Cambridge to practice cricket and we played a match. We lost to Bangladesh by one run, it was a very close miss. The best part of today was the food on offer because it was Indian!
I got up at 5 a.m. this morning. Waking up early was difficult, but at the same time I was worried about delivering my speech at the Houses of Parliament [Street Child United players spoke at the U.K. parliament to discuss the issues street-connected young people face]. I was thinking, “How will it go? Will it go okay?”
I started my day by travelling to The Oval [an international cricket stadium in London] in London where we were hosted by former British Prime Minister Sir John Major. The lesson I learnt from Sir John Major’s speech at The Oval was that we should play the game, whether we win or lose. The fact that we played at the Street Child Cricket World Cup is what matters.
While I was getting comfortable at the Houses of Parliament, suddenly I had to get up and speak. In my head I thought, “Why am I worried? I shouldn’t be because if I feel it from the heart, I’ll just say what I feel and what I’ve experienced. So, why should I be scared?”
What I loved the most from today was the tour of London. I especially loved taking a picture with my teammates with Buckingham Palace in the background and seeing the London Eye.
The day started with a warm-up game which eased me into the day. Myself and the other teams also discussed problems that street-connected children face and we came up with one thing that was a common problem, which is shelter for street-connected children that will enable them to get legal identity, protection and access to education. Team India North discussed the issue further with Team Bangladesh and then we had to come to a common solution and a common barrier.
One of the things I took away from the discussion was that we all know problems of street-connected children, but that process had me think about solutions as to who could do what to get them out. One of the things that the group agreed was putting accountability on the government and identity as one of the big things that came out as a common solution between Team India North and Team Bangladesh. Another thing I learnt was that even though they’re two different countries, the issues and solutions are quite similar.
After the discussion, we had a dancing session which I really enjoyed as it broke language barriers. The last discussion we had was for us to think collectively about what India represents.
When I arrived at Parker’s Piece (the venue for the group stages of the Street Child Cricket World Cup). It was very exciting! I was a bit nervous as I felt like suddenly I was a little girl playing for the first time against other teams, because earlier in the week I was playing cricket for fun.
Our first game was against Tanzania, which ended in a loss. As vice captain, we didn’t dwell upon whose fault it was, but I thought for the next matches we have to learn from our mistakes. As a team we discussed what should be our strategy and strengths.
The next match was against England. There was a feeling that we have to win this match. We were down to our last two balls and as luck would have it, we scored two sixes (when batting), which secured us a win, although it was a close call. When we won, we ran around with the Indian flag which was really exciting. Securing our first win got the team on a high and it also set the tone for our next matches against Nepal and Mauritius.
For our match against Nepal, we set the target of 19, but ended by scoring 20 and winning. We also won our match against Mauritius, so it was somewhat a hat trick in a cricketing sense.
The weather was not great today. Our hands were numb because of the cold weather, but it seemed like a magical coincidence that when we were set to play, the sun would come out and when we finished each match, it would rain. We finished third on the leaderboard, and the lesson I learnt from today is to never underestimate your opponent.
We played three matches today against Team West Indies, Team Bangladesh and Team India South. We lost two matches and won one, meaning we didn’t make it to the semifinals. We were quite sad to lose, but still happy that Team India South qualified for the semifinals.
Today is my 16th birthday! I got a cake and brownies which I distributed to my teammates and friends from other countries.
It was a little intense as we had congress during the morning. In congress we talked about our own issues and stories and why it was important for young people to share their experiences because only then can we tell the world what needs to change. After congress, all the teams went to Parker’s Piece to play a fun session of cricket. When we came back to St. Paul’s, we had a fun activity where we had to impersonate the Queen using household materials.
Today was the day we played at Lord’s Cricket Ground [a prestigious cricket stadium in London]! We played against Team Nepal and won the match.
As we didn’t make it to the semifinal, my teammates and I were rooting for Team India South who went on to win the first ever Street Child Cricket World Cup. The General Assembly, which took place at the Thomas Lord Suite, was really interesting as we got to see representatives from each country talking about the issues in their country.
One of the best parts of today was that they served us Indian food at the Thomas Lord Suite. My most memorable moment of the Street Child Cricket World Cup is the fact that we got to play at Lord’s, so now when people see Lord’s, they’ll know I was here.
Another memorable moment for me is that everyone young person here was a part of the conversation about setting their own agenda and talking about their life. All the young people from different countries, we made friends with them which was really amazing that I met new people. These are the things I will take away with me.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lusi is a 16-year-old student and cricket player from India. Her favourite subject in school is history and she hopes to become a teacher.