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Owzat for a great student experience? Student meet young cricketers in India's slum cricket league

A cricket league set up to help children from India’s slums to play the sport professionally has been inspiring students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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A team from DMU’s Square Mile India project flew out to Delhi to meet Slum Cricket League founder Rajesh Pundir and the children who play in the league.

The students volunteered to work in the slum and a school, as well as being invited to play in a one-day match against the children. The Slum Cricket League organisers, the Community Foundation Charitable Trust, even presented trophies and held a reception for the team.

Rob Cusack, first year Economics and Politics student, spent his 20th birthday playing in the tournament.

He’d put his name down for the opportunity, run with #DMUglobal, during Freshers’ Week. As a regular cricket player for his home club in Portsmouth, Rob was thrilled to meet people as passionate about the sport as him.

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“I began my 20s playing cricket and visiting a school. I don’t think that birthday will ever be topped. All of the kids in Rajesh’s league have been playing since they were three and some of them were the best cricketers I’ve played against, and I’ve been playing since I was 14 at a serious level.

“Their passion for the game was immense, it was as passionate about cricket as they are here about football.”

It was part of a visit to India for the students that included helping communities in the slums of Delhi, visiting a school for refugee children and visiting a hospital supported by DMU benefactor and graduate, Vijay Patel.

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Students were also lucky enough to spend a day in Rajkot watching India v England in the first Test of the series.

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Photography and Video student Christian O’Toole said: “It was absolutely incredible from start to finish. It was really, really humbling and it was an honour to be treated so well by people who have so little. To meet people like Rajesh and see the tremendous work he is doing was an absolute privilege.

“I’ve been to India before, but being part of this group gave you access to things you would not normally see, and being able to volunteer made it a completely different experience.

“This is the first of many visits hopefully and I’m feeling very inspired. We met some amazing people.”

The group of students have now become firm friends and meet up regularly since arriving back in the UK. “When you’re with each other 24/7 for a week and a half, you form quite strong bonds with people quite quickly,” said Rob.

DMU Square Mile India was created to support youngsters from some of the poorest families in the Gujarat region. They live in a home in Ahmedabad in the Gandhi Ashram, close to where Gandhi himself lived for 30 years.

Posted on Thursday 8th December 2016

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