Going into bat for minorities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am


The Hong Kong Cricket Association hopes it's found a way to engage young people from ethnic minorities.

In his policy address two weeks ago, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen emphasised the need for improved services for non-Chinese communities, and the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes is reaching out to the South Asian community through the game.

The association, which organises the tournament, will give 600 free tickets to the opening day of the Sixes on Friday to organisations that support non-Chinese minority groups. Tickets will be distributed through social welfare and neighbourhood groups in the South Asian community, with a particular focus on those working with at-risk young people.

It will be a special day for young cricket fans as Friday's play involves seven pool matches, involving Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. The first international exhibition Twenty20 match will also be held on Friday between an All-Stars side - including the likes of Pakistan's Shahid Afridi, Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka and South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs - and a Rest of the World XI.

'The challenges facing ethnic communities have been well documented in the news of late and the chief executive called for increased support services for ethnic minorities to facilitate their integration and to foster mutual understanding and respect within the community,' association president Shahzada Saleem said. 'We are delighted to play a part in these worthy aims.'

Saleem said the Cricket Sixes offered a unique opportunity to engage young people from ethnic minorities because of their ability in and fervour for the sport. 'It allows them to share their own unique sporting culture with the wider community through their passion for cricket,' he said.

A special youth cricket clinic was held at Kowloon Cricket Club yesterday where members of Hong Kong Sixes men's and women's squads coached 40 South Asian youth from Caritas community groups. Hong Kong Sixes captain Najeeb Amar was one of the clinic coaches. Originally from the Punjab in Pakistan, Amar has lived in the city for 11 years.

'It gives the South Asian community a chance to be part of Hong Kong and be proud of it,' Amar said. 'This is my home, like it is for many South Asians. Opportunities like this show that people here care and that we are accepted by everyone.'

The two Caritas associations participating in yesterday's session are among several that will receive free tickets for Friday's action. Another recipient is a community support centre at the Kowloon Mosque.