This week, Essex Cricket will embark on a trip to play a very special and memorable cricket match in the Vatican City.
The trip came about through talks with St Peter’s Cricket Club, the Pope’s cricket team from the Vatican City, to support them with their proposed cricket tour to the UK in September 2016, called the Tour of Light.
With over 50% of the Club’s core cricket work being run in very diverse and multi-faith cricket communities, a match against an East London Multi-Faith team was organised soon after the team landed at Stansted Airport on Sunday 11 September.
St Peter’s CC were very impressed by the whole experience as they played a game against a team that represented 5 different faiths and the hosts, Walthamstow Cricket Club, went out of their way to put on great hospitality. The day was topped up with two former Essex Captains in attendance, Graham Gooch and the late Doug Insole.
During this summer, Essex Cricket were contacted by Father’s from the Vatican Cricket Team and asked about the possiblity of reciprocating the offer of a Essex Multi-Faith team trip visiting the Vatican, which was gratefully accepted. The team will depart on Thursday (12 October) with the match against St. Peter’s Cricket Club taking place on Saturday (14 October).
A number of high profile people have supported the trip and cricket in the region:
Prime Minister, Theresa May said:
“Championing the positive impact that sport can have on people’s lives is the something about which we should remain passionate. We should never underestimate the community connections that sport encourages and I am heartened that a shared love for cricket is bringing people of all faiths together in East London. I hope Essex Cricket enjoys the trip to the Vatican. I wish everyone involved the very best of luck.”
Essex County Cricket Club Chairman, John Faragher said:
“I am equally delighted that our friends at the Vatican have extended an invitation to send a team to reciprocate the success of the previous trip. It will be a very powerful opportunity to continue the message of ‘faith’. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone representing the Club and our hosts, for making this possible. No doubt everyone involved will have a wonderful experience and return with long-lasting memories, created by the power that cricket has to connect communities across the world.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said:
“In London, we respect, embrace and celebrate our diversity. What better way to showcase London as a beacon of diversity than through a cricket team that is representative of five different faiths. I hope the trip is a great success and that we can host the Vatican Cricket team in London in the not too distant future.”
Our Club Captain, Ryan ten Doeschate said:
“I continue to take a high interest in the community work we support at Essex Cricket. I was delighted to understand that we have a representative team visiting the Vatican to play the game we love, as well as share a platform to celebrate so many things we have in common.
“My simple message to everyone that represents Essex Cricket on the trip is to ensure you enjoy this opportunity, wear the shirt with pride and a big thank you for the continued hard work you do for cricket, as it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Professor Lord Patel of Bradford, ECB Director and attending the trip said:
“In a world full of conflict and at a time when people can seem so distant from one another, it is a joy for me to see cricket, a game I love so much, bringing unity and harmony. Sport of all kinds plays a vital role in the life of communities – people enjoy sport for the fun, the rivalry, team work, leadership, skills and the lifelong friendships that it enjoins. But sport also has much wider value to the wellbeing and cohesion of our world, and none more so than cricket.”
“This Multi-Faith Tour says so much about what can be achieved, when we focus on those things that unite us rather than keeps us apart, and in these troubled times bringing hope out of despair. Cricket is a powerful tool in overcoming hatred between different groups and people as they watch and play a game that so many millions across the world love.
To have this tour in Rome, at the heart of the Vatican City is a great honour, but even more importantly it is an opportunity. An opportunity to shed a light on how conflict can be turned into collaboration and how the spirit and enthusiasm that cricket creates can overcome any and all barriers.
Fr. Eamonn O’Higgins, L.C. (St. Peter’s Cricket Team Manager) said:
“The Inter-Faith tour will bring people of major religious faiths together in Rome. In this way, we will express together the belief that there is an order and purpose to all things, and that the way of human life is to seek and to experience the Real Source of all that is noble, true and good. This is what religion is, the human response to the source of all things, and the discovery that we are sons and daughters, and therefore all brothers and sisters. The world today needs to see this authentic religious experience.
Andrew Mindenhall, Chief Executive at Agilisys, said:
“Agilisys is delighted to have the opportunity to provide enabling sponsorship to this unique event, bringing together sport and multi-faith communities. We look forward to seeing the updates from the tour, and wish the team every success in their matches.”
A special thanks to the tour partners Ganidor Sports and Agilisys for supporting the trip.
The Tour Party:
Professor Lord Patel of Bradford England & Wales Cricket Board | Director and Player
Forhad Hussain (Essex Cricket) | Director and Player
Robyn Hulley (Essex Cricket) | Tour Manager
Arfan Akram (East London Cricket Co-Coordinator) | Assistant Tour Manager & Tour Captain
Jawar Ali (Essex Cricket & Operations Director at London Tigers)
Emdad Ahmad (Community Support and Scintilla Cricket Club)
Michael Arnold (East London Cricket Coach)
Simon Cooper (The Mayor of London’s Office)
Qam Farooq (Sales Manager at Ganador Sports)
Kashif Haroon (Councillor London Borough of Barking & Dagenham)
Shiraz Kothia (Community Leader in East London)
Vince Mulholland (Chairman Ilford Catholic Cricket Club)
Saba Nasim (Essex Women’s Cricket Ambassador & Coach)
Mukesh Patel (Councillor London Borough of Newham)
Kam Rai (Councillor London Borough of Redbridge)
Kanan Thiyagarajah (East London Cricket Coach & Barking Cricket Club)
Dominic Twomey (Councillor London Borough of Barking & Dagenham)
Annanth Kumar (Chairman Cavaliers Cricket Academy) | Umpire
Sheela Sethu (Secretary Cavaliers Cricket Academy) | Scorer