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Asian migrants bringing their love for cricket to Germany

The number of registered cricket teams in Germany has trebled in the last four years.

German Cricket
Asian migrants playing cricket at an abandoned workshop in Bautzen

Thousands of refugees, many fleeing conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan settled in Germany last year. Young men and women from Afghanistan and Pakistan seeking refuge in Germany have changed the entire cricketing scenario of the Western European nation.

The sound of leather colliding with willow echoes on borrowed football fields, on wastelands beside crowded refugee camps.  A majority of the refugees are Asian migrants from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh seeking asylum in Germany have also brought their sport with them.  

The refugee crisis has changed the emphasis of world politics in the last couple of years. German Chancellor Angela Merkel once said that this issue  would change this country but she probably did not have in mind that the home of the current football world champions would be entertained by another round ball sport.

It is not that the people of Germany have never heard of cricket but it is considered as a rather exotic pastime. There is also a national cricket team but is not exactly known for its resounding success as its football counterparts.

Also read: How cricket gave birth to one of Europe's most iconic football clubs 

In 2012 there were only 1,500 players and 70 teams registered with the German Cricket Federation. After four years the number has grown to 5,000 cricketers playing in 220 teams. It is very much evident that the refugees of Asian origins have enhanced the culture of cricket amid the crisis.

When they come and play cricket it gets them out of where they're living

According to Deutscher Cricket Bund’s (German Cricket Federation) manager Brian Mantle said that the federation has been overwhelmed by the migrant crisis. He said, “When they come and play cricket it gets them out of where they're living. They're also learning the German language and characteristics like punctuality and reliability."

One of the newest clubs in Germany is in the eastern town of Bautzen. Many of the cricket team members of the club are living in a hotel on the outskirts of the town. They have local newspapers cutting about their team’s victories and golden trophies in their rooms.

One of the players, Sunny said, "If I can do something for Germany then I will play cricket and I will show them the game that is in our veins. Germany has become the best in football and it will become the best in cricket also."

The cricketer currently works as a handyman in the refugee home and hopes to be granted asylum here. The soft-spoken cricketer also said, "Sport is the best way to make unity,"

He also spoke about how people from different religions cross boundaries to participate in the game. He said, "We have Muslim guys, Christian guys and I belong to a Sikh family. When we play together, we forget everything."

These people are living in cramped conditions and waiting for a better accommodation in the near future. In this adverse situation their spirit, love and enthusiasm for cricket is working as a lifeline in a country where the sport is nothing but a pastime.   

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