RBCC host U18 refugee tournament

Royal Brussels Cricket Club hosted a tournament for young refugees at its ground in Ohain on Saturday 24 September.

Teams were present from three centres around Belgium which host u-18s, from beyond Liege at Spa, from beyond Namur at Yvoir, and from Woluwe in Brussels. The day followed up on several matches between the club and refugee teams during the summer.

Many of these youngsters have walked most of the way from Afghanistan, the most recently arrived having done it in 2 months 10 days. Some parts are dangerous – security forces shoot – while others need money for bribes. The youngsters say they leave since the choice back home is often either the army or the Taliban.

One thing for sure, they like their cricket. Not many have played on a real ground, or with a hard ball. Some guys won’t wear gloves. Their training is mostly watching the Indian super league on satellite TV. But the standard of their cricket is high, and the games hard fought.

Overall, Yvoir came out unbeaten on top. Spa came close, and have a huge team commitment. Woluwe – being a dispatching centre – had the most recently-arrived players, still getting used to Belgium. The weather helped – the sun shone, there was food and music, and it was a memorable day.

Since summer is the time for cricket and the season now is finishing, the idea is to follow this up with indoor training – and indoor tournaments – during the winter. For the centres closest to Brussels, this works, but the centres further away may need to do deals more locally.

Several other cricket clubs round Belgium have also been welcoming refugees who like the game. Hasselt Cricket Club ran a cricket-for-all day; Antwerp Cricket Club have provided training sessions, and several refugees now play in their teams. Other clubs are working on other initiatives, and some centres have put pitches down on unused parts of their grounds.

Royal Brussels Cricket Club is now working with everyone to make sure that the Belgian Cricket Federation can follow up this enthusiasm. If you’re here as a refugee, arrived for better or worse in a very different continent, it helps at least to find something in common in sport
Refugee Tournament

Refugee Tournament1

Refugee Tournament2