29 April 2010

Throughout the MyWar exhibition, FACT will be publishing guest blog posts from looking at war and politics in the media. Andrew Ross is a, "23 year-old, MA student in Politics and Cinema..."
Imagine that holding a gun, and not a cricket bat, is second nature. Consider that dancing around mines, instead of dribbling with a football at your feet, is a day-to-day activity where you live. This is life for the people of the war zones of the world. However, there are several inspiring stories emerging from the adversity of living with conflict through the power of sport.
Take for example the Afghanistan cricket team, due to take part in the show-piece that is the World Twenty20 cricket tournament taking place in the West Indies which starts this week, competing against the Australia’s, the England’s and South Africa’s of this world. However, the road to the West Indies has been less than straightforward. Many players learnt the game in neighbouring Pakistan, where millions of Afghans fled as refugees to escape the 10-year guerilla war against the Soviets and brutal, ethnic-inspired infighting following their withdrawal. Furthermore, for security reasons, the national side plays its matches in Sharjah in the U.A.E., while cricketers back home face the constant threat of bombs and bullets.
Elsewhere, even more inspiring is a team of disabled cricketers, many of whom have lost limbs to the landmines that kill or injure 40 Afghans a month, is looking to emulate the success of their able-bodied counterparts and compete abroad.
Finally, consider this, a quote from Graeme Smith, South Africa’s cricket captain, and renound figure within the game, “I read their opener [Karim Sadiq] said he was not scared of facing Dale Steyn [the world’s fastest bowler] and I wouldn't be either if I grew up in a war zone. That's the thing, they have no fear and they have nothing to lose.” Indeed, this from Smith is food for thought. Through not just sport, but culture as a whole, people can forget about their worries and relax, even if it’s just for the 3 hours of a cricket match, or the 90 minutes of a football game. These activities do give people a sense of achievement that even in the direst of circumstances they can make a difference, not just to themselves, but also to the country as a whole. It is for that reason, that this Saturday look out not just for the result of your favourite team, in whatever sport, but look at the cricket team of Afghanistan and know that win, lose or draw, what they are achieving, is way above anything we could even dare to imagine.