Community matters; cricket kit funding gives asylum seeker Ezaz the leading edge

At MarchwoodIFA we understand that we are a valued team within our local community, and not just from a financial ethics perspective. We get involved in community projects and social good ventures including local sport; because we cherish the discipline, respect and team building skills that sport so often brings. We also understand that increasingly, because of the squeezed budgets of schools and local authorities, access to kit, equipment and playing field areas can mean that some young people do not have the means to take part despite having the talent and the ambition.

We would like to share with you some work that we did with Ezaz, a young Afghan asylum seeker who came to the UK with his brother after the Taliban killed his father. His journey to flee his homeland started when he was about 14 years’ old, and it took him three years to make it to British shores. Walking from Afghanistan to Pakistan and then on to Iran, Ezaz often travelled without food, water or sleep. Following a route through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Italy and then France, Ezaz was nine months in a Eurotunnel camp before boarding a lorry to the UK. He was found in Dover and given over to children’s services at Gatwick, where the county council’s leaving care department housed him with the Chichester Foyer housing centre for young people. Chichester Foyer reached out to Chichester Priory Park Cricket and hockey Club (Chichester Priory CC) as one of the few English words that Ezaz knew was “cricket”.

Happily Chichester Priory cricket club captain Jon Heaven could see that: “Ezaz had played cricket in Afghanistan and was a natural talent. He was very keen to watch others and learn.” Because of the strong links that Chichester Priory CC has with Goodwood Cricket Club Ezaz was able to get on the pitch on Sundays throughout September 2015. According to Heaven, in Ezaz first game he did well scoring six and taking two catches, this despite needing to: “adapt to the relatively slow green English wickets [which are] very different to the concrete like wickets of Afghanistan.”

Both Chichester Priory CC and Goodwood CC (captained by James Mayne) agreed to make Ezaz an honorary member. When the cricket season ended in September Ezaz enrolled at Worthing College to study English. In January Chichester Priory CC were able to start training ahead of April at Seaford College.

Though throughout last season Ezaz got by with donated kit from fellow team players, this year MarchwoodIFA team mates supported Ezaz by buying him new equipment and cricket kit. As an asylum seeker Ezaz is not allowed to take either paid, or unpaid work; so the donation was helpful to his continued cricketing success. Heaven said of Ezaz: “His cricket continues to improve, and he has produced some remarkable innings including a century against Arundel and many half centuries. We are confident he will remain part of the strong cricket community in Chichester for many years to come.”

If you would like to know more about our community work at MarchwoodIFA please contact us via the online form, or call us on: 01243 532 635, or email us on: info@marchwoodifa.