On Saturday Sara and writer O’neil Sharma travelled to Essen to meet Brian Mantle, General Manager of the DCB (German Cricket Association), and Arif Jamal, an Afghan refugee, for our upcoming project ‘Rites of Passage’. Sara and O’neil attended their weekly training in a sports hall in Essen-Altendorf and watched a team that consists mainly of refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan play a game that could not seem more out of place in football-crazy Germany: Cricket.

Cricket has had a considerable upsurge in the last 4 years in Germany, going from some 1500 players in 2012 up to over 5000 in 2016. The number is ever-growing, which is mainly thanks to the people around Brian Mantle – expats from the UK, India and Australia, and refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan – who facilitate their sport for better integration in their new surroundings.

Arif Jamal is one of them. He fled from Afghanistan 7 years ago, and when he arrived in Germany he had nothing but his sport. Since the time he met Brian Mantle he has made a very good and successful life for himself, winning the U19 European championship and the Essens Beste award for sports. He now works in a refugee shelter, giving back to his community, and brings his protégés along to the cricket trainings.

Sara and O’neil interviewed Arif for our upcoming project ‘Rites of Passage’, which is to profile exactly this success story about a refugee who, after all the hardships he has been through, finds himself in the middle of a feel-good success story – despite all the difficulties he is facing even after his long journey from Afghanistan.