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East London Vatican touring team take to the field

Emdad Rahman

THE EAST LONDON multi-faith cricket tour team enjoyed another eventful day both on and off the field. An early start saw the squad given a private tour of the Vatican Gardens and St Peter’s Basilica by senior members of the clergy, Father Sameer Advani, Monsignor Sanchez and Brother Terrance Allen.

Following the excursion, the team travelled to the Ippodromo to fulfil the first of their two friendly fixtures against Capannelle Cricket Club.

The tourists lost the game but made many friends in the process. Team captain Arfan Akram commented, “We were in negotiations with the Vatican – with discussions via the ECB – and we facilitated a multi-faith cricket game at Walthamstow last year. This year we have accepted an invite to visit Rome. This is all about cricket breaking down boundaries, and with a white shirt, red ball and green field we’ve got five different faiths represented.

“That’s what the Vatican were very excited about. Cricket in East London is very diverse and once you get over the white line you don’t look at differences, you focus on commonalities. Here the commonality is about working together to win and therein is a lesson in life.”

After presenting a plaque to Italian cricket legend Alphonsus Jayarajah, Professor Lord Patel of Bradford and the ECB said, “You are the epitome of persevering and playing this game. You have made 20 new friends today and we will go back to London and the UK generally and talk about this. It’s been a fantastic experience. We’ve always said that it’s playing and not winning that matters. We’ve enjoyed some good quality cricket and had lots of fun as well. What can I say? You’re never too young or too old to play cricket.”

Also in attendance at the game was Fabio Marabini, who one year ago was elected the President of the Italian Cricket Federation. The day was rounded off with a trip to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.

The final day sees the tourists face the Pope’s team – St Peter’s CC – for their final game before the team conclude the tour and return to the UK.

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