The Sixth Former was a guest of the English Cricket Board, invited for her services not just to women’s cricket (she is captain of the U17 Buckinghamshire Girls’ team) but also for her sterling effort in raising nearly £2000 for Afghan Connection.
It was a splendid evening. For me, an avid cricket fan, it was a chance to meet my sporting heroes but for the Sixth Former it was an opportunity to understand how fundraising works and how, by using contacts and having a passionate belief, you can change the lives of thousands.
The stories the charity tells are sobering. The lives of women in Afghanistan are still deeply unsettling where, according to The New Statesman, the fledgling Afghan women’s cricket squad have been labelled “prostitutes and preached against by imams”.
Despite this, brave women emerge such as Diana Barakzai, captain of the Afghan women’s cricket team, who learnt to play cricket when her family fled to Pakistan as refugees from the Taliban.
Since returning to Kabul in 2009 she has tried, against significant opposition, to encourage other women to take up cricket. As she says “playing cricket for a girl was no less than suicide, but my spirit and the strong support of my family encouraged me not to stop my activities”.
Despite the difficulties, the potential of women’s cricket to galvanise wider female progress in Afghan societies has been increasingly recognised. Afghan Connection has led the way, building cricket pitches as well as schools for girls, giving them an education and a voice. In a war weary nation where half the population is under the age of 18, cricket provides a vital tool in the fight for equality.
It was a pleasure to be part of a charity that was making a significant difference.
I was very proud watching one of our Sixth Formers speak confidently to the audience at Lord’s, describing what she had done to raise money for this charity. There is no doubt that sport brings people together and can change lives.
Afghan Connection has enabled our Sixth Former to make a difference, to be a wonderful role model for all BGS pupils and, in doing so, to help girls Afghanistan have access to an education that will change their lives.
It was an evening that both of us will remember!