In May 2016 Middlesex Cricket entered into a partnership with Afghan Community Organisation PAIWAND, which increasingly over the last ten months has had a major influence on the youngsters involved within the project.
‘PAIWAND’ means ‘unity’, which is the principal aim of the organisation whose purpose is to assist and support Afghan refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in helping to unite the refugee community to improve the quality of life of its members in their new homeland here in the United Kingdom.
That unity is encouraged and expressed through the provision of advice and support in respect of health issues, social services, education, counselling, career advice, translation services, welfare support and sport.
With cricket being such a popular sport in Afghanistan, Middlesex Cricket and PAIWAND have teamed up to provide a safe and friendly environment for a group of young Afghan cricket enthusiasts to come and play the game they love.
The project has evolved over time and now sees two coaching sessions run each week across two venues in Middlesex, in Brent at Willesden Sports Centre and in Finchley at Middlesex’s own Indoor Cricket School.
One young person actively involved in the project is Asad Nabi, aged 15, who attends Middlesex Cricket’s PAIWAND sessions regularly. Asad’s enthusiasm for the game and his promise as a bowler sparked an invitation from one of the Middlesex Cricket Participation Team members to join him at Kenton Cricket Club, where he was welcomed by all club members, including other Afghan cricketers already playing at the club. Asad very quickly made strong bonds with not only his fellow Afghan countrymen, but with all other members of the club, and is now regularly playing for the Kenton CC Second Eleven as an opening bowler with high aspirations to represent the club’s First team and beyond.
Raj Nath, one of Middlesex Cricket’s Community Coaches who is involved in delivering the PAIWAND Project, and who was responsible for Asad joining Kenton Cricket Club, commented...
“It’s great to see these youngsters come along with such enthusiasm and such a passion for the game they love. When they come here they are not only able to relate with others within the sessions, but they’re also able to uncover avenues for them to play at clubs which are local to them. This allows them to improve their social awareness, lets them make new friends, and gives them a real sense of community spirit.
“In Asad, we have a terrific example of what these projects can help to achieve.”