Another Cricket World Cup: Street kids from India win Street Child Cricket World Cup 2019

With the World Cup starting soon, we bring you another team India which fought against all odds to lift the Street Child World Cup in England.

 |  4-minute read |   22-05-2019
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The cricket format is called 'Street 20 Cricket', where an 8-member squad play 6 a side matches, with two as substitutes, having an equal number of boys and girls. The match consists of 5 overs of 4 balls each. When a batsman/batswoman scores 15 runs, they must retire to give an opportunity to other players to bat.

Team South India, led by four kids from Chennai and four from Mumbai, won the tournament. The team comprised of players: V Paulraj (captain), K Suryaprakash, A Nagalakshmi and B Monisha, Mumbai players were Manirathnam (vice captain), Bhavani, Irfan and Shamma.

Let's look at some of these players.

Labourer in the morning, cricketer during the day

Paulraj, 17-years-old, has been living on the streets in Chennai since he was born near a market. His parents run a tiffin shop to meet their financial needs. Even though it’s a roadside shop, they pay rent of Rs 150 per day. Beyond all this, this boy kept his eyes focused on his dream — to become a professional cricketer.

When his parents could not afford a cricket kit for Paulraj, this obstacle didn’t stop him from playing the game. Paulraj used to work as a child labourer — he did loading work in the early morning at 4 AM and during holidays, to buy cricket gloves, a bat, etc.

paulraj-inside_052119010224.jpgLiving by the roadside, he took up cricket and did loading work to afford a small kit. (Photo: Author)

He recollects how once, when he attended a marriage party with his friends, he was discriminated against as 'a roadside boy' and was humiliated. Now, through Karunalaya, an NGO which has helped him, he got this chance to play in London.

"This was a remarkable event in my life which makes me feel included and respected for who I am," smiles young Paulraj.

Abandoned by mother, adopted by cricket

Nagalakshmi’s native place is Madurai. Her mother abandoned her kids when they were young. She has an elder sister and two brothers. Her grandmother considered the granddaughters a burden — so, she dropped them in the care of a government home.

Nagalakshmi has no memory of her parents.

At present, Nagalakshmi stays at the shelter home for girls at Karunalaya.

nagalakshmi-inside_052119010358.jpgOnce an abandoned child, through cricket, Nagalakshmi now represents her country. (Photo: Author)

It was the love for the game that she started playing cricket. She found a new way to beat stress — through cricket. Today, she likes to open the batting and smash the bowlers around. Nagalakshmi is delighted about this out-of-the blue chance of playing in an international event. She wants to become a social worker and work with street children.

"A girl like me who has no place to go has been identified to represent India — and that is overwhelming," she quietly remarks.

Facing paedophiles, Monisha turned to cricket

Monisha, 14-years-old, has been living on the street since she was born.

Her father, Bhaskar, passed away in 2016 and her mother works as a maid to support her two kids. The safety of her children at night while sleeping on the streets has been a major concern for her. She faced a tough time on the streets, especially during the nights looking to use washrooms which were open during the day but closed later on. Monisha recalls going to a loo in the morning and encountering drunken strangers and paedophiles. In the midst of all this, the family survived.

monisha-inside_052119010619.jpgHaving battled child abuse on the streets she called home, Monisha finally took up cricket. (Photo: Author)

Monisha had dropped out of school in Class II. After proper counselling, she went back to school. Back home, people living on the pavements, children on the streets played cricket. Monisha was one among them. Later, when Monisha learnt about cricket coaching, she immediately went ahead through the help of an NGO.

"My aim," she says, "is to play cricket and to change the way people live on streets."

Labourer to cricketer

Surya Prakash is 14-years-old. His father passed away in 2009 and his mother works in a hotel as a cook. Due to his family conditions, he dropped out of school after Class VI and began to work with his mother at the age of 11.

He worked as a child labourer in Punjab and Chennai for years — often working for more than 15 hours a day.

He tried to survive the verbal abuse of his employers. After sometime, he ran away and with no place to go, he was wandering in Chennai Railway Station when he was rescued by an NGO and placed in their shelter home.

surya-prakash-inside_052119010718.jpgA child labourer who worked more than 15 hours a day, he turned to cricket and changed his life. (Photo: Author)

He did not want to return to his village as his mother, he felt, would insist that he goes out to work as a labourer. Today, he plays cricket after school and the love for the game has changed the way he looks at life.

'I desire to express that street children have every right for participation in all the opportunities that life brings to them," he thinks aloud. "And that no street child deserves to be set aside for labour. Every child deserves to grow. And to play."

Also read: What Age? Cricketers in their 30s are bowling colleagues in their 20s out of the game!


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