Sara Begg works as a volunteer at Cricket Without Boundaries which combines her experience in sports development with an interest in public health interventions. She has worked in sports development for nearly five years, specialising in engaging non-traditional participants – women and girls, young people from inner-city areas – in cricket, coaching and leadership. In this article, originally produced for Teamer, she talks about her work with the charity.
Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) is a small charity that, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of its volunteers, delivers crucial health and social development messages to tens of thousands of children every year. The charity uses cricket as a force for good, helping communities in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK to tackle HIV, FGM and other social issues.
The Cricket Without Boundaries family is made up of people from a diverse array of backgrounds; from just-out-of-school cricket-nuts to retirees, from midwives to accountants, from our local ambassadors in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Cameroon to our team of UK-based volunteers who keep the charity running year-round. What unites us all is a passion for making a positive change in the lives of others.
Our core message is simple: everyone can play cricket together, regardless of their HIV status, their gender, their shape, size or physical ability. On top of this we weave in issues specific messages. On an HIV project our coaches will talk about how we can use our bat to protect our body from the ball, just like we can use a condom to protect ourselves from HIV. On an FGM project, coaches encourage teamwork and communication, reinforcing the message that boys and girls must work together to end FGM. UK-based empowerment projects encourage players to write the challenges they face on targets, and then discuss solutions to write onto the balls they will knock these targets down with.
It is the diversity of our volunteer family that makes this work possible; a CWB project thrives when there are women who can answer girls’ more sensitive questions, young men who can talk to teenage boys about consent and using condoms, local coaches who can bring nuance and cultural sensitivity, loud people who aren’t afraid to start a conga line, quiet people who can support and build the confidence of local teachers, experienced coaches who can organise a session, new volunteers who can bring fresh eyes and find innovative solutions – on every project our family grows bigger and our skill-set grows wider.
Like all families, ours is filled with stories; funny and sad, happy and moving. We are proud of our successes, big and small; children who now know their HIV status and are receiving treatment because they got tested at a CWB cricket festival, Mathias who trained as a coach with us two years ago and is now employed by Cricket Kenya and working in nine schools every week, Maasai Cricket Warrior Benja who is now working as a CWB ambassador advocating for an end to FGM in his community. Every CWB volunteer has their personal story to tell, of how they helped change lives and, invariably, how becoming part of the CWB family has changed their lives too.
To find out more about Cricket Without Boundaries: