I am Somebody: the grand finale
I am Somebody. You are Somebody. We are all Somebody.
That’s how the young leaders closed the General Assembly and that will be the lasting message that each and every child will carry with them as we reach the close of another outstanding Street Child Cricket World Cup.
It was set to be a jam-packed day, as everyone gathered together in the morning for the General Assembly, the culmination of the powerful advocacy work that the children had been building towards throughout the week. We heard from the young leaders first of all, the Street Child United success stories who founder John Wroe described as an inspiration to all. John continued to call this event the “World Cup of hope, joy and peace”. He talked about the unique offering that the Street Child World Cup brings to the children – a combination of congress, arts and sports – and one that John believes truly works.
Voices of the Chennai Congress
Today, we saw the outputs of the week’s hard work come to fruition with the children declaring to the audience their powerful demands for action in five key areas: education, healthcare, protection, gender equality and identity. Our 19 teams were split across these five areas, bonding over shared experiences and speaking in solidarity with each other. The teams chose to tell their stories through a medium that allowed them to express themselves, whether that be drama, poetry or song.
We heard an emotional plea from the healthcare team for no discrimination, the education team exposing the issues with having to pay for exams and uniforms, and the gender equality team calling for a campaign that dismantles gender stereotypes. This is just a flavour of the 19 declarations that make up the ‘Voices of the Chennai Congress’ which was officially signed by John Wroe and Oliver Ballhatchet MBE, British Deputy High Commission to Chennai. Now, the children can take these declarations to their home countries and fight for the change they want to see in their communities.
But we all know today wasn’t just about the General Assembly. It’s called the Cricket World Cup after all…
An all African final
The Street Child Cricket World Cup 2023 final began on an almighty cliffhanger as we arrived at the Amir Mahal Palace grounds to discover two waterlogged pitches after an evening of tropical thunderstorms. However, the cricket volunteers’ quick thinking and a herd of yellow t-shirts helped move the boundaries so they were safe for play and meant the day could be salvaged.
It was a day of fierce competition but great sportspersonship, as Bangladesh chased a tough score of 80 from England and came out on top. Whilst it wasn’t England’s day on this occasion, team Zimbabwe showed a touch of class, immediately rushing to the support of England and encouraging the team to keep their heads up.
It was also a day of high drama as team Zimbabwe, who held the record of the highest runs to date, managed to split a bat in half from a magnificent six against the mighty India Cobras.
Team Uganda stormed their way to the final with stellar bowling that made it difficult for Bangladesh to challenge their score of 80 in the semi-finals.
There were high emotions, skill, professionalism and respect on display to make it a finals day that had the spirit of the game at its core. But two opponents had to come out on top and that was Uganda and Zimbabwe which made for a spectacular, uniquely all African final. Two teams from countries that are not traditionally cricketing nations made this one to go down in the history books.
The other 17 teams gathered around the pitch as the sun began to set, a beautiful sight, bringing tension to the game from the additional spectators and the storm brewing overhead.
It could have been anyone’s game. Uganda smacked many a 6 out of the ground to reach a score of 67, putting the pressure on Zimbabwe. However, the slick bowling from Uganda, shout out to the ladies of the team, proved successful in the end and they were ultimately crowned the winners of the tournament. Jubilant celebrations erupted from team Uganda and its supporters around the pitch, with the team immediately in a group embrace, chanting and spinning around together.
I witnessed a poignant moment during the celebrations as Zeenat from India Cobras ran to her new friend Melissa from Uganda to congratulate her, both flooded in tears and hugging each other close. Melissa proudly pulled out a piece of paper from her pocket which Zeenat had drawn on for Melissa, and proved to be her good luck charm during the match. A very special moment that encapsulates exactly what the Street Child World Cup is all about – friendship, inclusivity and bringing children with shared experiences together for a trip of a lifetime.
The evening finished with a closing ceremony with special guest attendee Mrs Latha Rajinakanth to recognise the achievements of the teams during the tournament.
Now, we bid another farewell to a memorable Street Child Cricket World Cup and say goodbye to friends, old and new. Here’s to the next one!