Blossoming Dreams: Street Children on road to cricket world cup By Uzmi Athar

Blossoming Dreams: Street Children on road to cricket world cup By Uzmi Athar

In the bustling streets of Delhi and its blighted slums, there exists a group of young individuals who are set to represent India in the upcoming Street Child Cricket World Cup.

New Delhi: In the bustling streets of Delhi and its blighted slums, there exists a group of young individuals who are set to represent India in the upcoming Street Child Cricket World Cup. Sania, Shravan, Jannat, Sandhya, Farzana, and Karan, are going to embark on a remarkable journey towards the Street Child Cricket World Cup, transcending poverty and trumping fate.

The upcoming Street Child Cricket World Cup, organised by Street Child United, will be held in Chennai from September 23 to 30, just ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. The unique tournament is not just about cricket, it's about promoting the rights and well-being of street children worldwide by giving them a platform to shine on the international stage.

This year's event, second such, is particularly special, with teams comprising street girls and boys from 17 countries, including India, England, Burundi, Hungary, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Nepal, Rwanda, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. Part of this Indian team is a 15-year-old Jannat. Jannat's father works as a daily wage labourer, while her mother used to work as a domestic help till she was forced to stop working due to a foot-related condition. The development threw her family's financial affairs in disarray and Jannat was forced to drop out of school and started shouldering her family to help it prop back up. Jannat's sister Rukhsana too took up sewing to help family survive and Jannat resume her education, which she did, excelling in her 11th grade. "My foremost aspiration is to secure victory in this tournament.

We are not just playing for ourselves, but representing our nation. Beyond cricket, I am focused on making a positive impression. I am keen on engaging with other participants, and I want us to present ourselves as proud representatives of India," she said. Sania, a 14-year-old with an avid curiosity, lives in Nehru Camp. Her education was briefly halted by the pandemic, but she's back in school. "I am looking forward to representing India at a global stage," she said. Shravan, 15, from Madhubani district of Bihar was spotted by children NGO CHETNA while playing in a park. He ran with the opportunity and is now on the path to becoming a professional cricketer.

"Through cricket, I have come to comprehend the profound impact of teamwork and cooperation," he said. Sandhya, 13, hails from Shivaji Park in Delhi. Her father being a ragpicker and her mother a domestic help wasn't exactly the lottery of birth one wishes one was born with. But matters were alleviated somewhat by her relatives' efforts and gave the teen enough time to inculcate a love for cricket. Now she is thrilled to be part of the Street Child Cricket World Cup. "I have consistently been drawn to sports, particularly those involving running. When introduced to this opportunity, I was genuinely eager to become a participant," she said. Karan, 15, who hails from a slum in west Delhi's Shakurbasti area doesn't know what it feels like to live in a stable household with his father moving from one menial job to another. Youngest in his family, Karan is currently in the 10th grade, and hones his cricket skills along a dusty stretch by railway tracks. He believes the world cup is his ticket out of the poverty.

Most of these children have been supported by child rights NGO CHETNA which identified them and motivated them to try for the team. "Street Children are like 'Sadak ki Googlee,' poised to navigate an unpredictable path till presented with the right opportunity. Over the past three months, we have witnessed profound transformations in a group of ten children, selected from among 50," Sanjay Gupta, Director of Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action, or CHETNA. "They have emerged as heroes within their peer groups and communities, challenging gender stereotypes, displaying remarkable resilience in adverse circumstances," he said. Each of these children has a unique journey, but they all share a common determination to rise above their circumstances and succeed at the Street Child Cricket World Cup, he said.

The second edition of the Street Child Cricket World Cup 2023 will welcome 23 teams from 17 countries to take part in the mixed-gender cricket tournament. The teams will play the game in the Street-20 format, designed to remove several barriers to participation. Each match is six-a-side, with equal numbers of girls and boys on each team. Announcing the teams, John Wroe, CEO, Street Child United had earlier said, "Across the world, street-connected young people live on, work in or are at risk of the streets. These young people are often stigmatised, mistreated, and marginalised. Their voices are rarely heard." Wroe said that Street Child Cricket World Cup uses the power of sport to provide a global platform for street children to be heard, "so they can receive the protection, support, and opportunities that every child is entitled to."

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