Asylum seekers going batty for cricket

Voluntary activist Roos Demol with the cricket group from the direct provision centre that are hoping to find somewhere to train.

Cricket players living in direct provision in Cork who are practising between buildings at their accommodation centre are in a frantic search to find a place to train so they don’t have to give up the sport.

Voluntary activist, Roos Demol, says asylum seekers at the Kinsale Road centre near Cork airport are passionate about cricket.

A few months ago she issued an appeal to the public for gear to allow the men to play.

“I put it on Twitter and it was really nice because they were supplied with bats and balls. It came from everywhere. Harlequins Club gave them a lot of gear. But individuals also sent them their old gear.

At the moment they are practicising in Kinsale Road centre between the buildings. We discussed them maybe playing friendlies with local clubs and the guys went crazy about it because they love it.

Ms Demol says individuals in direct provision are under tremendous stress because they constantly worry about their applications.

She has spoken to various clubs in Cork, to local universities and to the inclusion officer in the city. Efforts are underway to source grounds for them to train on. A meeting is being held today to find a training ground..

Ms Demol says the cricketers are excited about the possibility of having somewhere to train.

She is keen to see this come to fruition as quickly as possible.

“We don’t want a team. We wouldn’t be able to afford it. We just want somewhere for them to train. There are a few people from Pakistan who play. There are a few Indians and a lot of people from Bangladesh. There is one boy from Zambia and he is the only African involved. It’s mostly people from the Asian countries where they eat and sleep cricket.”

The cricketers often discuss their activities with the proprietor of the Bull McCabe’s pub across the road who loves the sport. They also watch matches onsite.

Ms Demol, who also set up the Citadel Music group in the centre, says that ultimately people in direct provision are looking for something to lift their spirits. The asylum process can be very long, arduous and isolating.

They find strength within them from things like this. It’s no more than that. To be able to get out of their beds and go do something. And at the same time mingle with local people. It’s a way of integrating which is very pleasant for everyone.

She said she has seen how people change when they are playing.

“Whenever the sun shines they are playing until it goes down. It will be disappointing if we have to let it go.”

Twenty individuals are involved in the cricket practice. One is a teenager who also loves hurling.

“He is 14 and he sends me videos of him all the time hurling. He tells me to put his videos on Twitter. He wants to be in Irish teams. There are also guys in their 40s. One of the men is from Bangladesh and he knows a lot about cricket and is the captain of the team.”

Ms Demol said direct provision centres in Galway are very proactive about cricket. “They have done this. We can too,” she added.

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