Alsama had very special guests on the ground- members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The MCC is the most famous cricket organisation in the world developing the rules for cricket. The charity wing of MCC, the MCC Foundation supports 4 of Alsama Cricket hubs in Beirut and the Beqaa valley. The team included MCC Chief Executive Guy Lavender, MCC President Clare Connor, MCCF Director Sarah Fane, and trustee and Alsama supporter Mehmooda Duke.
It was a super eventful visit, kickstarting with the tour of our Alsama educational centres in Shatila and Bourj el Barajneh, where the MCCF met all our staff and students. The visit to Bourj was particularly exciting with students reciting their favourite poems for our guests. They visited all the cricket hubs, travelling between the camps and playing alongside the children 6 to 7 hours a day.
Guy Lavender shared with us
It is an incredible place to be in and see the work Alsama is doing both in education and in cricket. It is a great privilege to be here and I am impressed by everyone I have seen.
The visit to Beqaa was on a day of heavy rain and icy winds, but all our players and coaches were present in the indoor training centres nevertheless. Alsama players were thrilled to practise with the MCCF. With Clare Connor, former captain of England cricket team, batting on the pitch the excitement was palpable. After the training, one of our Beqaa coaches welcomed us to her house in the camp and shared her story of survival and strength while sipping sugary tea around the subia (heater).
The Cricket Championship was the highlight of the week. 12 Alsama cricket teams playing against each other in Beirut, with Alsama Board Member Richard Verity, Clare Connor and Guy Lavender as umpires. In attendance were representatives from the British embassy in Lebanon and journalists. Amidst intense cheering, the teams battled to win the special trophy- a cricket bat signed by the entire cricket team of Pakistan. Shatila Hub 1 Team 1 won the match and took the coveted trophy home.
Moved by what she saw, Sarah Fane shared with us
I feel very emotional. When I came in 2019, it (cricket) was just beginning, and now everywhere I look there are kids playing cricket. It is what Alsama Project has done for them. I love their spirit, how girls are playing alongside the boys, all this has impressed me. I think it is the combination of the education they are receiving and cricket that is turning them into the most incredible individuals.
Farewell to the MCCF was filled with warm hugs and smiles, with our students motivated to work harder and play better. Thanks to the MCCF for supporting us in leading positive change and keeping the true spirit and joy of the game alive.