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Australia Awards scholars celebrate inclusion and multiculturalism through cricket

Posted: 15 December 2022

Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Experience, In Australia, Scholar,

Undertaking an Australia Awards Scholarship not only offers scholars a world class education but also the opportunity to experience the best of Australia’s multicultural community, society and lifestyle.

With the International Cricket Council’s T20 World Cup taking place in Australia in October and November this year, several Australia Awards scholars enjoyed the festivities in several cities.

Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka played in the tournament, providing scholars from these countries the opportunity to support their home teams. Others joined the games as neutral fans.

A group of scholars from Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the penultimate group game between Pakistan and Bangladesh at Adelaide Oval.

Starting the day at the OzAsia Festival, one of Australia’s largest contemporary arts festivals engaging with Asia, the scholars were able to soak up the multicultural atmosphere.

Upon arriving at the oval, the scholars were met at the Bradman Collection by Ben Page, Cricket Australia’s Public Policy and Government Relations Manager in South Australia. Ben briefed the group on the history of Adelaide Oval, sports diplomacy initiatives with South Asia, and Cricket Australia’s support for inclusive cricket.

Cricket was the first non-paralympic sport in Australia to fully fund its State and National Disability teams, with national competitions for blind, visually impaired and deaf cricketers and those with an intellectual disability. Ben noted that Cricket Australia was committed to providing a positive experience for all and developing a full pathway for athletes with a disability to thrive and represent their state and country.

This struck a chord with Tuan Rushdi, a scholar from Sri Lanka, who had played blind cricket in Sri Lanka. “I am looking forward to contacting the Blind Cricket Association in Adelaide to find opportunities to play here” said Tuan, who is studying a Master of Disability Policy and Practice at Flinders University.

The game itself was tight, with the winner going through to the tournament’s semi-finals. With large contingents of supporters from Bangladesh and Pakistan, the barracking was vocal but good natured. Maldivian scholar Muawiyath M. Didi, who goes by Muthu, noted that he was surprised that different groups of fans were not separated at sporting events in Australia. “The people here are side by side, waving their flags and enjoying the day. Australia brings people together” said Muthu, who is also undertaking a Master of Disability Policy and Practice at Flinders University. “Other countries could follow this example.”.

After watching cricket often with her family at home in Nepal, just being at the oval was a highlight for Nepalese scholar Shanti Suwal Shrestha, who has just finished the coursework for her Master of Education at Flinders University. “I have always wanted to watch a live cricket match, so it was a dream come true for me”.

Australia Awards scholars Preetikana Chakma from Bangladesh and and Shanti Suwal Shrestha from Nepal enjoying the match.

Despite Pakistan winning the game, Bangladeshi scholar Preetikana Chakma enjoyed the game. “Having the chance to support my country in person here in Adelaide was a unique experience” said Preetikana, who commenced her Master of Applied Project Management (Project Systems) at the University of Adelaide this year. “Besides enjoying the match, having the opportunity to make new friends and learn about the history of the Adelaide Oval gave me unforgettable memories”.