In an initiative developed by Noeline Nagle of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, a team of Tamil asylum seekers from western Sydney has formed to contend the Last Man Stands 20/20 cricket competition this summer.
Supported by Wenty Leagues Club, ‘Oceans 12’ played their first match on Tuesday November 26 against Wenty Young Boys, with the Tamils extending their reserves to the local team to make up numbers, in a sporting gesture. The team consists of 16 players, ranging in age from 19-29 years.
Bowling the first twenty overs, Oceans 12 took 2 wickets for 161 runs, including a fine catch and run out. Chasing a good score, the team made 84 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. Spectators were shown an entertaining game, including several sixes and some sharp fielding.
With 8 players per side, and all 8 wickets required for a bowl-out, Last Man Stands is an abbreviated form of the game that is gaining recognition for its global reach and inclusive dynamic. Formed in a joint effort between Ms Nagle, local Tamil cricketers Vasee Rajadurai and Dr Bala Vigneswaran and Justin Isaacs from Wenty Leagues, Oceans 12 is making a strident inroad, towards addressing the need for meaningful activity for asylum seekers.
Struck by this growing issue during her regular community work with BMRSG, Ms Nagle explains, “I realised that we had a desperate need to occupy these guys with a worthwhile activity… the common denominator is cricket.” With support from BMRSG members Anne Marie Clifton and Jackie Mayers, Ms Nagle has quickly brought together community resources and coordinated an event of tremendously affirmative action for these asylum seekers
Living in rented, government-contracted housing from Homebush to Toongabble, the team members are on bridging visas and therefore have no work or study rights. Frequently, the houses are quite crowded, to reduce costs. Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group members are active in visiting and supplying basic furniture and some living requirements. Countering the disenchantment of indefinite unemployment, negligible income and no access meaningful work, the team functions, for these young men, as both entertainment and a focal point towards a better quality of life.
The initiative has generated enormous positivity and support, including a public appeal for equipment in Peter FitzSimons’ ‘Fitz Files’ in the Sydney Morning Herald, and a television segment by ABCTV’’s Lateline, scheduled for December 10. The Tamil community has enthusiastically supplied the team with transport, coaching and translation services. Cricket equipment and whites were donated by independent community members, including an unassuming Brisbane donor, who sent two new bats earlier this week.
The Blue Mountains community, including the captain of the BMGS First 11, have also contributed excellent equipment for the men. The competition entry fee is sponsored by Wenty Leagues Club and support is also being extended from Hazelbrook, Katoomba and Blaxland Cricket clubs. A social day of 20/20 team cricket is being planned for December 22.
Donations of bicycles are being sought to counter the expense of public transport for the team.
Oceans 12’s next match will be at 12 midday, Tuesday 10 December at Monty Bennett Oval at Wenty Leagues (Wentworthville); BMRSG would love to see a strong turnout.
Kate O’Connell, Journalist with BMRSG, 6 December, 2013
BMRSG member Edward Kerr attended and reported on the match