Otago Daily Times

Cricket some­thing new for refugees

- EMMA PERRY emma.perry@odt.co.nz Cricket · Refugee Crisis · Sports · Immigration · Society · Dunedin · Afghanistan · New Zealand · Muhammad Ali · Soraya · International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement · Iran · Jacinda Ardern · Elizabeth II · Otago · Afghanistan national cricket team

A CRICKET field in Dunedin is a long way from the con­fines of an Ira­nian refugee camp.

But for four Eidizadeh fam­ily sib­lings from Afghanista­n, play­ing cricket to­gether is a time they cher­ish in their ‘‘new New Zealand life’’.

They will be part of an Afghan team play­ing at the Dunedin Multi­Eth­nic Cricket Fes­ti­val at Forsyth Barr Sta­dium this Sun­day.

Jamil Eidizadeh, said she had played cricket only once be­fore, but was look­ing for­ward to play­ing in a team with her sib­lings Mo­ham­mad Ali, So­mayeh and So­raya, af­ter they were en­cour­aged to play by Red Cross vol­un­teer An­gus Mackay.

‘‘We don’t know how to play

. . . It will be in­ter­est­ing,’’ Ms Eidizadeh said.

They ar­rived in New Zealand with their par­ents in Au­gust last year hav­ing lived in a refugee camp in Iran for seven years.

‘‘We waited for a long time to come here.’’

Ms Eidizadeh said the fam­ily had to leave due to war­fare in Afghanista­n, and liv­ing in the camp, which housed 600 other fam­i­lies, was very dif­fi­cult.

The six fam­ily mem­bers shared two rooms, and while able to buy food and cloth­ing, could not buy any­thing else, ‘‘not even a sim card’’, be­cause they did not have pass­ports, she said.

‘‘We had no money, no jobs.’’

Meet­ing and get­ting a photo with Jacinda Ardern when she vis­ited Dunedin last month had been a highlight, but there were some bad ex­pe­ri­ences, Ms Eidizadeh said.

She was get­ting off a bus in the cen­tre city last month and was the vic­tim of racist com­ments.

‘‘It was not nice . . . most peo­ple are kind.’’

Ms Eidizadeh hoped to study oral health af­ter she fin­ished two years of study at Queen’s

High School.

The Afghan cricket team is one of about 10 teams play­ing in Sun­day’s fes­ti­val, or­gan­ised by the Dunedin Multi­Eth­nic Coun­cil, to­gether with South­ern district po­lice and the Otago Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion, for the wider eth­nic com­mu­nity.

 ?? PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON ?? Hav­ing a go . . . Mem­bers of the newly formed Afghan cricket team play­ing at the Multi­Eth­nic Cricket Fes­ti­val on Sun­day are (from left) Ali Ah­madi (11), Eraj Mo­radi (18), So­raya Eidizadeh (10), Jamil Eidizadeh (20), So­mayeh Eidizadeh (13) and team cap­tain Mo­ham­mad Ali Eidizadeh (17).
PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON Hav­ing a go . . . Mem­bers of the newly formed Afghan cricket team play­ing at the Multi­Eth­nic Cricket Fes­ti­val on Sun­day are (from left) Ali Ah­madi (11), Eraj Mo­radi (18), So­raya Eidizadeh (10), Jamil Eidizadeh (20), So­mayeh Eidizadeh (13) and team cap­tain Mo­ham­mad Ali Eidizadeh (17).

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