By the time the Street Child Cricket World Cup gets underway on Friday in Chennai, India, eight Ugandan youngsters will have fulfilled their childhood dreams.
The Street Child World Cup may not be the main course in as far as competition is concerned, but it’s presented these youngsters with an opportunity to showcase their talent and skills globally.
The tournament aimed at bringing together the underprivileged from across the globe to not only showcase their talent on the field, but also their cultural identity will see Aziz Tandia, Ali Balidwa, Gerald Olipa, Jonathan Nyiro, Malisa Ariokot, Lorna Anyait, Naome Amongin and Agnes Nakakande fly the Ugandan flag in the Asian nation.
This will be the second time the Street Child World Cup will curtain raise the ICC Men’s World Cup, but who are these kids representing Uganda?
Aziz Tandia – This name must ring a bell to most cricket lovers! Despite only seriously taking up the gentleman’s game two years ago, Tandia has had his name etched inside the hearts of those who religiously follow the game.
The 15-year-old’s first test of competitive cricket came early this year when the U19 boys team toured India in preparations for the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.
He was named in the Baby Cricket Cranes team that underperformed in Tanzania in that Qualifier, but he made headlines early this month when he picked eight wickets including a hat-trick as his Kololo SS team thumped St. John’s SS by 10 wickets in their final Group B game at the Sky View Boys Schools Cricket Week. Overall, Tandia topped the bowling charts in that tournament with 24 wickets.
Lanky as he may seem, the teenager is being looked at as one of the best spinners brewing in the country.
Lorna Anyait – If you watched the first game between Uganda and Kenya at the Kwibuka Women’s T20 in Kigali, Rwanda in June, the little girl who won the Player of the Match award in that game is the youngster we are referring to.
The Olila prodigy has turned heads with her spinning game in the league, but she left the spectators speechless that day with her crazy figures. The 15-year-old who rose from the ranks of Soroti Cricket Academy conceded only five runs off the four Overs she bowled, and bowled at an economy of 1.25 in that game. A truly up and coming gem whose talent will be witnessed at the global stage.
Gerald Olipa – A young brother to Cricket Cranes player Rogers, Olipa is a batsman who likes to stick to the wicket. The Mwirian opened batting for Uganda during the July Qualifiers in Tanzania. He also opened for his Mwiri team during the Schools Cricket Week that saw him finish the competition placed 5th on the batting chart with 253 runs from his eight innings. He scored one century (134 which was his highest score) in that tourney.
Naome Amongin – The reigning National Women’s T20 League MVP will welcome this opportunity with both hands. Amongin has been knocking at the doors of the national team with her impeccable all-round performances in the league. She will feel this will finally serve as a gate pass for her earning that long awaited national team call up.
The Olila High all-rounder deservedly beat Soroti City’s Phionah Kulume and Rita Musamali from Wanderers to the League’s MVP after collecting 1233 points. She scored 93 runs and picked 12 wickets from 11 games as Olila finished second in the league. The Street Child World Cup is another chance for the medium pacer to showcase her talent, and this time, to the entire world.
Jonathan Nyiro – One of the only two fast bowlers in the team, Nyiro is fresh from winning the Sky View Schools Cricket Week with Jinja SS. The imposing opening bowler was very crucial as the Mighty school ended a seven-year wait for the Schools Cricket Week trophy. Despite failing to deliver at the Qualifiers, his partnership with fellow opener Peter Ocen was especially lethal during the Schools Cricket Week. Nyiro will look to use this competition as way of sharpening his skill.
Agnes Nakakande – Another ‘pace mama’ in the making, her style of play is likened to Victoria Pearls opening bowler Irene Alumo. This senior four student at Masaka SS announced her name to the fans during the Girls Schools Cricket Week that was held in Soroti early this year. Masaka didn’t win the competition, but Nakakande left her mark, and testament to that, she was immediately scouted by Aziz Damani in the national league after the tourney. What an adventure this promises to be for the Masaka born.
Ali Balidawa – Another player who will look to put behind the disappointment in Dar es Saalam will be Balidawa. Balidawa took no part in the Schools Cricket Week, but his display with the ball at the Batball X tourney was a reminder of what a promising youngster he is. With his spin, the 15-year-old can be a headache to face. He will look to serve the same sauce in India.
Malisa Ariokot – Like Anyait, Ariokot made her senior national team debut in Rwanda in June, but the medium pacer knows a thing or two about playing for a national side. She was part of the team that finished fourth at the U19 Girls Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in Botswana last year. She’s also one of the dependable players for Olila in the league despite only having paltry years experience.
The eight will compete against 168 players from 15 different countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, England, Hungary, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and hosts India.
Not only will this tourney showcase these kids’ talent, they will also take part in art workshops and child-friendly Congress sessions.
This tourney is aimed at giving underprivileged children a fair go at life.