Ahmed (not his real name, 11) joined his local Wicketz programme shortly after activity was allowed to open up again post Covid. The restrictions of the pandemic made for a difficult time for Ahmed and his family. He was living in a new area and needed opportunities to make new friends and rebuild his life. Ahmed’s father John (also not his real name) tells his story.
Until just before the start of the pandemic Ahmed was living with his mother. The police and social services became involved when her mental health declined, she became very confrontational, irrational and removed him from school. It was apparent that day to day life for Ahmed was extremely challenging, increasingly chaotic and occasionally violent. I was encouraged to apply for sole custody of the son I had until then, only been able to see sporadically to remove him from the very volatile environment where he was deemed as being ‘at risk of significant harm.’
It was like starting from scratch for Ahmed - new school, new home, new family and initially no friends. Life for both of us changed dramatically. Wicketz played a vital role in his road to normal life and also provided respite for myself at a challenging time. I went from someone being just responsible for myself - working hard, living on my own in a small bedsit - to now living a very different life taking care of a young and vulnerable son - responsible getting him up for school, meals ready on time and ensuring he made new friends. As Ahmed’s grandmother who rarely saw him before, put it “a big change for us but such a good one.”
After missing so much school, Ahmed had fallen behind and didn’t find lessons easy. Wicketz was a real help - he was able to find something he excelled at, and through seeing his own achievements in cricket, his self-esteem and confidence increased hugely at what was a difficult and critical time for both of us. Ahmed really looked forward to Wicketz, it gave him a purpose in life at a time when it was really important for him to be recognised as good at something – that has been really crucial for Ahmed.
"Wicketz was a godsend at a tough time"
Ahmed has been through a lot in his life, he was very shy, lacked confidence and badly needed to make new friends to help him settle into his new life. Cricket became a constant in Ahmed’s life and the new friends he made there helped him to find his feet in a new area. The people he met at Wicketz were different to those he made at his new school and from across a range of different communities all brought together through cricket – people he would not normally have had the opportunity to spend time with. Wicketz helped teach Ahmed how to enjoy himself. As he said, “the best bit of Wicketz is interacting with other people, joking around and having fun.” The shy and uncertain boy who had arrived with me became more confident, beginning to leave the turbulence and challenges of his early life behind him.
For me, the social side of Wicketz has really helped me deal with the dramatic changes in my life. Just having a cup of tea with another parent on the sidelines was valuable. Ahmed and I both enjoy him playing cricket and it gives us something else to talk about away from our daily life.
Ahmed attended the Wicketz three-day residential this past summer, which was the first time he had spent time away from home since he came to live with me three years earlier. I could see his independence had grown even over just those few days. Sometimes we are too busy just trying to get on with life to realise the important aspects and qualities of our routine activities.
Looking ahead, like many families, we face difficult times financially and really appreciate that Wicketz places no financial burden on us, often providing additional treats like visits to cricket matches and cricket festivals.
Wicketz Residential Overview