Otago Daily Times
Cricket something new for refugees
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
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.