Home' Greymouth Star : June 18th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
he two bowlers gasp as the
ball flies narrowly past the
head of 22-year-old Mati,
then burst into laughter as
the batsman’s momentary
look of panic turns into a
The scene on a sunny afternoon at this
modest cricket club in south London is a
world away from war-torn Afghanistan,
where these three young men — Mati,
Arman and Haroon — grew up.
The Refugee Cricket Project (RCP) was
founded in 2009 with the aim of bringing
young refugees together, improving their
English and cricketing ability, and offering
guidance with asylum applications and
The project, mainly made up of Afghan
refugees because of cricket ’s popularity
in the South Asian country, is one of
a growing number of sports initiatives
in Britain that aims to help refugees,
particularly youngsters who are among the
most vulnerable victims of displacement.
just sitting in the corner and watching,
and my English wasn’t good so I couldn’t
understand the coaches,” 21-year-old
Arman says softly.
“But some of the Afghan guys came over
and translated for me, and I got used to
it,” he says, leaning back in his chair and
fiddling with his cap while glancing at his
Mati, Arman and Haroon were once
among the dozens of child refugees who
arrive alone in Britain every week seeking
Almost 2000 unaccompanied children
arrived in Britain last year, the majority
from Albania, Eritrea, Afghanistan and
Syria, according to the Home Office
Many are smuggled out of poverty-
stricken and war-torn countries, sent away
by their families to escape persecution, and
undergo cramped, lengthy and perilous
journeys before arriving in Britain.
Arriving alone in Britain can be
terrifying for children, unable to speak
English and unused to the environment.
Some are interrogated by immigration
officials and held in detention centres
while their asylum claims are processed.
“ When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what they
would do to me, or even who they were.
I was very scared,” 18-year-old Haroon
Arman was 15 when he stepped out of
the back of the truck which had smuggled
him into Britain to be greeted by several
police cars and a helicopter flying
“I told social ser vices I was 15, but they
said ‘No you are lying, you look older’ ...
and they took me to a detention centre. I
was there for three and a half months,” he
The three men choose not to disclose
their full names for fear of retribution for
their families in Afghanistan. They refuse
to talk about what pushed them to leave,
but some of their team-mates fled forced
recruitment as suicide bombers, and others
faced death threats.
When it comes to talking about adapting
to life in Britain, however, the three are
laid-back and self-assured.
From detention centres to foster families
to shared housing, the experiences of Mati,
Arman and Haroon, who have all been in
Britain for at least five years, have varied
greatly. But they were all sent to school in
Britain, and struggled to fit in.
“The boys were rude to me, they bullied
me as I couldn’t understand English,”
Haroon says. “Slowly, slowly I started
speaking English and they’ve become my
friends now. ”
Despite having only played cricket with
plastic balls back home, the three men
took to the sport swiftly in Britain, and
showed off their natural talent in the nets.
“ First I was a batsman, then I became
a wicketkeeper, then I tried to bowl, and
I’m a fielder too so I’m doing everything
now — I’m good at all of it,” Arman says
with a smile.
Cricket sessions and English classes
aside, the RCP also runs a weekly advice
clinic to help the young refugees and
asylum seekers secure their right to remain
Refugee and asylum seeking children
are looked after by local authorities upon
arrival in Britain, but ignorance about the
asylum system means they often receive
poor advice which can hamper their
applications, RCP co-ordinator Antonia
Less than half the 1000 unaccompanied
children seeking asylum were granted
refugee status last year. Nearly 380 were
granted leave to remain temporarily on the
basis there would be nobody to look after
them if returned to their home country.
The number of Afghan child refugees
seeking asylum in Britain has shrunk
in recent years — from 1800 in 2008
to 168 last year — but there are still a
steady stream of new faces arriving at the
RCP, which is run by British charities
The Refugee Council and The Change
For those who have gained the right to
live in Britain, the RCP helps them to
access higher education, training courses
and work experience to ease them into
Haroon hopes to open a car workshop,
Arman is studying information technology
while Mati works as a nursing assistant.
“ I’m really enjoying my job as I like
helping others. I think it’s the best way to
give something back, like the support we
had when we didn’t know anything,” Mati
says. — Reuters
4 - Thursday, June 18, 2015
Arman, 21, left, Mati, 22, and Haroon, 18, pose for a portrait at the cricket nets at the ground used by the Refugee Cricket Project in south London.
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
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welcome your opinion and suggestions.
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Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
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Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
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uLetters to the editor
1815 - British under Duke of Wellington and
Prussians under Gerhard von Blucher defeat
France’s Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo.
1928 - Aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the
first woman to fly across the Atlantic
1945 - William Joyce, known as
‘L ord Haw-Haw,’ is charged in
London with high treason.
1958 - Death of Douglas Jardine,
former England cricket captain who
led England during the controversial
‘ bodyline’ tour of Australia in 1932-33.
1959 - Death of Ethel Barrymore, US actress
of stage and screen.
1995 - Private plane carrying the Angolan
soccer team crashes in Luanda, killing 48.
1996 - Benjamin Netanyahu is sworn in as
Israel’s youngest prime minister.
1997 -The fugitive Cambodian Khmer Rouge
leader Pol Pot, surrenders.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Anastasia, daughter of Russian czar Nicholas
II (1901-1918); Ian Carmichael, British actor
(1920-2010); Roger Ebert, US film critic
(1942-2013); Paul McCartney,
British singer (1942-); Thabo
Mbeki, former South African
president (1942-); Alison Moyet,
British singer (1961-); Nathan
Morris, US singer with Boyz II
Men (1971-); Blake Shelton,
American country singer (1976-);
Jason Segel, American actor (1980-); Cameron
Smith, Australian NRL player (1983-); Billy
Slater, Australian NRL player (1983-).
“ Neither beg of him who has been a beggar,
nor ser ve him who has been a ser vant. ”
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and
villages, teaching in their synagogues, and
proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and every sickness.”
— (Matthew 9.35).
The Omoto slip
has given fresh
ammunition to local
bodies advocating for
the speedy establishment of a new northern
outlet from Greymouth. It was pointed out
by spokesmen for the Greymouth Borough
Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the
Westland Progress League that the current
Omoto threat is not isolated.
All three bodies are pressing for a new
northern outlet via Taylor ville and Stillwater.
The first major slide at Omoto began on
October 28, 1954, when a new road and
rail deviation was severely damaged by
the movement of a 60ft-high spur. Road
communications were cut completely and rail
movement came to all but a standstill. Since
then, there have been a number of occasions
when signs of movement have been obser ved.
The Mayor of Greymouth Mr F W Baillie
expressed anxiety over the reoccurrence of the
slip. He said it had shown in the last decade
that the area was most unstable and, with
the pending influx of traffic here with the
opening of the Haast Pass Road, “a stable and
satisfactory outlet is required”.
State coalmines, during the year ended
December 31, 1964, lost £602,428 compared
with £449,846 the previous year. These figures
were revealed in the annual report of the
Controller and Auditor General released
The report also said the State coalmines
industry faced a possible reduction in sales
following the opening of the new power station
at Benmore and the operation of the Cook
Strait power cable.
Less coal was used by all consumers than in
the previous year.
uFood for thought
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“For the watch!” With that grim cry, the
conspirators of Castle Black struck down
their Lord Commander. How fitting
that the assassination of the fictional
Jon Snow should coincide with the
800th anniversary of a legal document
sealed at Runnymede on June 15, 1215.
Why fitting? Because the breath-taking
brutality and treachery of Game of
Thrones offers us a much truer guide
to the political realities underpinning
Magna Carta (as that legal document is
now known) than the pious platitudes
offered up by its latter-day celebrants.
The power of Game of Thrones, and
the likely explanation for its worldwide
popularity, is its clear-eyed refusal to
pretend that good character and effective
policy are somehow inextricable. The very
real John Plantagenet, like the fictional
Jon Snow, was a man confronted with
a multitude of poor options — none of
which were likely to significantly improve
George R R Martin, the author of
Game of Thrones, presents Jon Snow
to his readers as a man of honour and
courage who, in spite (or is it because?)
of these qualities, is required to make his
choices from a set of dwindling military
and political options — each one carrying
a higher risk of death, either in battle or
by assassination. With every decision Jon
Snow makes, his personal circumstances
grow more perilous, until, eventually,
nothing remains to him but fatal choices.
Very few historians (if any) would
attempt to present John Plantagenet as
an honourable man. The historical cliche
of “Bad King John” (so unlike his “good”
brother, the chivalrous King Richard the
Lionheart) does possess a reasonably
solid foundation in historical fact. With
brutality to match the very worst scenes
in Game of Thrones, John ordered the
deaths of the young Welsh noblemen sent
to his court as hostages to their fathers’
good behaviour. To prevent her spreading
rumours (which were, almost certainly,
true) that he had personally murdered his
own nephew, Arthur, John ordered Maud
de Braose, along with her eldest son,
to be shut up in the dungeon of Corfe
Castle and starved to death.
John Plantagenet was, clearly, no Jon
Snow when it came to matters of good
character. He did, however, have much in
common with the fictional hero when it
came to poor political options. The vast
Angevin Empire, which John inherited
from his father, King Henry II, and his
formidable mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine
(Cersei eat your heart out) was under
constant pressure from barons loyal to the
French king. To hold on to his family’s
territories across the English Channel,
men and money were urgently required
— a nd they did not come cheap.
If John had refused to defend his
inheritance, he would have been in all
kinds of trouble. (His enemies already
called him John ‘Lackland ’, or, even
worse, ‘Softsword’). But, in raising the
resources required to defend the empire,
he was bound to displease his feudal
support-base, the barons. Indeed, it was
John’s success as an administrator — and
tax collector — that incited his barons
(especially those who owed him lots of
money) to rebel.
These barons were very far from being
the lordly defenders of the rights of
freeborn Englishmen that the celebrants
of Magna Carta like to paint them.
On their own lands they wielded the
same sort of brutal authority as the
murderous Bolton family displays in
Game of Thrones. One could even argue
that it was the royal encroachments on
baronial power represented by John’s
administrative innovations (he invented
to post of Coroner, the “Crown’s Man”)
that made his rebellious barons so
determined to roll back their king’s
Good man or bad man, John
Plantagenet, like Jon Snow, was
ultimately left with nothing but bad
options to choose from. Cornered
by his barons and their ‘bannermen’
at Runnymede, about 35km west of
London, and chivvied by Stephen
Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
King John affixed his seal to the charter
which, its high-flown promises about
freedom, justice and the rule of law
notwithstanding, was drawn up to ensure
that government of the barons, by the
barons, for the barons, would endure.
Jon Snow over-ruled his enemies in
the Night’s Watch — and paid the price.
John Plantagenet bowed to his barons’
assembled swords — and sur vived. Three
months later, at John’s insistence, their
long-winded charter was annulled by the
Chris Trotter is a left-wing political
What Game of Thrones can teach us about Magna Carta
Cricket helps refugees
China has become one with the Force
by showing the original Star Wars film
at cinemas for the first time, nearly four
decades after it became a global hit and
cornerstone of western popular culture.
The Shanghai International Film
Festival is showing all six Star Wars
films this week, including the first
screenings in mainland Chinese
theatres of the original trilogy, festival
organisers said. There are no plans for
In 1977, as foreign audiences followed
the adventures of Luke Skywalker,
Han Solo and Princess Leia ‘a long
time ago in a galaxy far, far away’,
China had just emerged from the
chaotic Cultural Revolution and had
yet to launch economic reforms which
would transform the Communist-ruled
Tuesday was the first showing through
the film festival of A New Hope —
made first but ultimately the fourth
film in the series — though hard-core
fans were treated to a specially arranged
screening of the original trilogy shown
back-to-back on Sunday.
At a central cinema, the Tuesday show
was nearly sold out. The Star Wars
theme song played in the lobby as the
young crowd entered, one man wearing
a C-3PO T-shirt and a woman sporting
white storm troopers on her black
Sales assistant Joy Han took a day off
to see the film, even though she has
seen all six through illegal downloads
and pirated copies.
“ It looks better on the big screen,”
she said. “ This is the first time for
Some audience members said they
were more familiar with the newer,
prequel films: The Phantom Menace,
Attack of the Clones and Revenge of
the Sith than with the original three
films — Star Wars, The Empire Strikes
Back and Return of the Jedi.
United States studio Walt Disney
hopes the screenings will prepare the
Chinese audience for the seventh
episode in the series, due for release
later this year.
On the Chinese website Douban, the
original 1977 Star Wars film received a
rating of 8.3 out of 10 and drew more
than 35,000 comments.
But some Chinese viewers criticised
the film for weak characters.
“Although the character design is
weak, the leading actress not beautiful,
the leading actor not handsome and
the action parts like children fighting,
placed in 1977, the visual effects are
amazing,” Xiaosi Buxiang on the
website said. — AFP
China screens Star Wars
for first time
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