Spirit of the Game: The Street Child Cricket World Cup 2023 opens in Chennai

September 24, 2023

In an explosion of colour and energy, the Street Child Cricket World Cup is underway following the Opening Ceremony and tournament draw held in the Concert Hall at Lady Andal School.

Joined by delegates, partners and friends, the participants arrived at the venue to a trumpet fanfare from local school children. Following a traditional ceremony of the lighting of a lamp and a sung prayer, Street Child United’s Founder John Wroe was joined on stage by Young Leaders Paulraj and Sopna who gave inspiring speeches recounting their life-changing experiences at their first World Cup in 2019, and the tangible power of change they brought about.

After further speeches by distinguished guests, and a thrilling dance show from Madras Seva Sedan, Tilly Reith hosted the eagerly anticipated draw. A selection of well-known cricket faces picked out the balls, joined on stage by team representatives in country strips. Group A looks to be particularly tough while all seven Indian teams, with home advantage, were placed in the same group.

The final performance of the night by the Karunalaya Foundation blew the roof off. An incredible exhibition of Indian Tamil culture bubbled with energy, sparking an ecstatic applause and the audience all up on its feet dancing – a joyful pandemonium that encapsulated all the good that the Street Child World Cup represents. Uniting cultures, bringing joy, and giving confidence for these inspiring young people to flourish.

It was a truly remarkable moment that will live long in the memory of participants and volunteers alike.

Team captains gather on stage following the draw

“We are here to play cricket as a family”

Earlier in the day, participants, volunteers and staff gathered under the same space for the first time for the Welcoming Ceremony. One after another, the teams were each cheered into the hall which was draped in country flags and decorated with artwork. 

John Wroe welcomed the participants to Chennai, telling the young people that the “job of Street Child United is to create a global platform to amplify your voices, because they are important, everything you say matters, and you matter”.

The ceremony echoed the day’s theme, ‘Spirit of the Game’. As well as giving participants an opportunity to meet fresh faces from around the world (and of course shaping up the competition!), it was a forum to discuss just what this journey means for them. 

For the captain of team Zimbabwe, the SCCWC was an opportunity to shine a light on the key issues in his country: lack of water, limited transport and depleted electricity. Many of the participants soon found their voice and stood up to share their thoughts and goals for the next week.

Teams shared their views at the Welcoming Ceremony

Despite the geographic diversity, there was an underlying feeling of pride, respect and equality common throughout all the teams. Teams were all curious to learn about others’ languages and cultures, with one participant challenging everyone to make at least 10 new friends!

Each person taking part in the Street Child Cricket World Cup drew a picture of themselves, pinning it up to the stands of a cricket stadium which had been beautifully-drawn by the art team. Throughout the session, artist Tim Vyner visually depicted events live with an incredible graphic projection. Concluding the ceremony, the young people formed a giant circle and raised their hands up in a Mexican wave to affirm the central message “I am Somebody”.


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