THE FINAL LEG of the Essex-Vatican cricket tour saw the east London team visit the historic Colosseum for a sightseeing and team bonding trip. It was followed by a trip to the Roma Capannelle to play a final game against St Peter’s Cricket Club – the team of Pope Francis.
The hosts were simply too strong and ran out winners during a T20 clash which saw plenty of skill and application on the field by both sets of players.
Barking & Dagenham Councillor Dominic Twomey commented, “It’s been an absolute privilege to be a part of this tour. In the past we have fought off BNP councillors who are the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve today. We are trying to achieve commonality, unity and bringing people together, and for ten years we had to fight people in Barking & Dagenham who wanted to keep us apart.
“This is amazing in how we have united different faiths. I’m honoured to be a part of this through the perspective of my Catholic background and this is something that we can grow back home. We have the opportunity, the momentum and some fantastic people who can make some positive decisions moving forward.”
Saba Nasim BEM, an ECB Level 2 cricket coach, took two wickets and reflected on the game and the overall tour. She added, “This is a very important tour and I’m honoured to have been chosen to be a part of and play for the East London multi-faith cricket team. Cricket is open to everyone and using this tour we hope to inspire more girls to get into cricket.”
After bidding farewell to tour Umpire Annanth Kumar and scorer Sheela Sethu, the team ended the tour by visiting the Pontificio Collegio Internazionale Maria Mater Ecclesiae Rome for a reception factoring in all faiths. The team were hosted by Father Dr Eamonn O’ Higgins – the manager and Chaplain for St Peter’s Cricket Club, Father Sameer Advani and Father Michael Ryan.
With the overall theme based on community interfaith harmony, talks focussed on the seminary, its students and their mission. Following the observation of evening prayers, the squad enjoyed a Saturday evening pizza dinner with the seminarians.
At the after dinner speech community leader Shiraz Kothia addressed attendees, who included the professors and seminarians. He said, “This unique game we played today was about bringing people together from various faiths to recognise the importance of unity, to recognise that we are all human beings and most importantly to understand that this should be a bridge and not a barrier for us all.”
The evening ended with awards handed out by Professor Lord Patel of Bradford, Simon Cooper from the Mayor of London’s office, Barking & Dagenham Councillor Dominic Twomey and team captain Arfan Akram.
The Essex Vatican tour has greatly helped build bridges and promoted tolerance and understanding. With such positive achievements it is hoped that these exchanges can become an annual affair.