Capital Kids Cricket Blog

Shatila Camp Diaries

CKC Returns to Shatila

Capital Kids Cricket’s CEO, Shahidul Alam (Ratan), has returned this week (4th March 2019) to run a week of coach education courses for Basmeh & Zeitooneh staff and volunteers who will now be able to run their own cricket sessions for the camp’s children.

Here, Ratan shares his thoughts and experiences from each day.

Day 1:

Returning to the Shatila camp this morning excited me – it felt like returning to another home.

The main difference between this camp and the one we held last time is that we are also focusing on more teacher training alongside coaching the children.

Upon my arrival I was greeted by a number of teachers and translators whom I had met on my previous trip. The weather this morning was wet with some drizzling, but luckily this improved as the day progressed.

We started the session as suggested by Scyld Berry – by having the group run around with balls before beginning introductions. The session went much better than I was expecting. We had a number of newcomers (mostly Syrian refugees) join, who seemed to really enjoy the day and playing with us.

In the afternoon the children joined us, and they were all very excited to see me! I could already see a lot of improvement in their batting and bowling thanks to our trustee, Richard Verity, who has been running two sessions a week since last November.

We ended the day with demonstrations using a junior Bola bowling machine and everyone had a turn to experience hitting a few tennis balls.

After returning to my hotel I was relaxing at the reception when I ran into one of our participants, a Syrian refugee attending the teachers’ course. I won’t disclose his name – he lives with his family in a tent in the Beka bordering area and he shared with me his family’s story of fleeing the Syrian war and his children’s fear of the police/army here in Lebanon.

I wish I had the ability and resources to do more for all of them!

Day 2:

Today was another busy and exciting day. I have been very pleased with the way the teachers at the camp have been taking cricket seriously, while also enjoying the game. There is a lot for new coaches to take in, however, there are a few things that are non-negotiable and it’s important for the new coaches to know this.

 They were taught basic bowling and completed a few fielding drills. Following this they played a KWIK Cricket game for the first time, which they really enjoyed!

A great part of the day was seeing the coaches’ management improve and the running of group activities was much better than day 1. One Lebanese teacher who was present at  our last camp mentioned today that Basketball was his first sport – but he was now going to teach cricket! He plans to teach all  of his family members cricket, including the rules and will try as much as possible to spread the game among as many people as possible. I was over the moon hearing his excitement.

The children have also improved a lot and it looks like they are all really enjoying the game! I’m thinking hard about how to keep this momentum going for the months and years ahead..

Day 3:

Coaches training on day 3 was much more exiting today. The coaches seems to be finding more enjoyment in the sport every day! The best part of the day was watching how much they enjoyed the KWIK cricket game and learning about some tactics on not getting out! 

Every individual in the camp has a sad story and yet they are all trying to be as happy as possible. I am pleased that even for short time, through cricket we are able to give them some new excitement.

The children’s game was much more organised and we are all looking forward to our last day tomorrow with competitions running between the 4 teams. Telegraph, BBC and Guardian all joined today and we are all very hopeful that this project will continue and that cricket will grow in this part of the world.

Day 4:

It was a wet start this morning as we started the coaches teacher training session, but we managed to get through it with only a few stops! By the end the coaches hopefully understood about batting set up, running between the wickets and basic bowling actions. The best part of the day was seeing the coaches understand the shorter Kwik cricket game!

During the afternoon session we held a competition between the four children’s teams. The coaches ran the games, which was one of the outcome we worked towards during the course.

I was delighted to hear all of the coaches praise the programme, they were all also committed to continuing cricket within their school’s sc’s camp.

I was also happy to hear a few of the boys express their feelings about the programme – they informed me that they feel safe when coming down to play cricket.

I wish we could extend more support to these child refugees…



CKC Volunteering  – Refugee Cricket

Shatila Refugee Camp, Lebanon

Day 4:

Our first session went well, but at midday, there was heavy a hail storm ☔ and, disappointingly, we had to cancel afternoon session.

We’ve had an excellent build up so far with the Kwik cricket games and tomorrow everyone will join in with a big festival.

It was hard to see rain water on the road and people living in danger with power lines everywhere. There are many accidents here when rains due to people being electrocuted.

I’m hoping that the weather will be much better tomorrow so that we can have a great finish to our cricket programme. There are enthusiastic adults and children who are all willing to continue running cricket once the holiday camp has finished, but I’m not sure how to get something going on a regular basis.

I need to put my thinking hat on and we need lots of support to keep these children smiling!

Shahidul Alam (Ratan) – CKC CEO

CKC Volunteering  – Refugee Cricket

Shatila Refugee Camp, Lebanon

Day 3:

Our aim was to start games from today, so I decided to play a Kwik cricket match with all the adults who have been supporting us at the camp. After the game, they were even more excited than the children!! 

On Friday, our last day, we will have a big cricket festival to celebrate the week. 

During the day, I spoke to some of the children about living in Shatila. It was difficult to ask how they felt about living in the camp, but everyone said they would like to go home someday. We also spoke about their expriences at the cricket camp, what they think of cricket and what their parents think. Here’s a short excerpt from one of the conversations I had (the full conversation will be posted soon!):

“My parents are glad that I am getting to experience new activities, try new hobbies and learn new skills. They hadn’t heard of cricket before, but when their I told them about it, they were keen for me to try new things and have new opportunities.”

During a break, I went onto the rooftop of a building to look around the camp. 

In the evening all officials were invited for a dinner hosted by Richard (CKC Trustee and Interim CEO of Basmeh Zeitooneh). H.E Abdul Motaleb Saker, Ambassador of Bangladesh also joined us along with all Basmeh and Zeitooneh officials.

Shahidul Alam (Ratan) – CKC CEO

CKC Volunteering  – Refugee Cricket

Shatila Refugee Camp, Lebanon

Day 2:

Seeing the childrens’ excitement is so precious!

I could not of imagined their living conditions in the refugee camp. On day one, I experienced them first hand as I went to wash my face during lunch break. The tap water was salty. When I asked why, the manager of our partner charity informed me that it is same in most of the houses across the Shatila camp. I cannot imagine how people live without proper water? Children want to go to school and they cannot go as they are not allowed outside the camp area. One girl handed me a pice of paper with writing in Arabic which was translated as saying “I want to go to school, can you help me?”.

I don’t know how to help these children. Not only do they need education, they need basic living conditions and hygiene. World leaders must do something about this!

Shahidul Alam (Ratan) – CKC CEO

CKC Volunteering  – Refugee Cricket

Shatila Refugee Camp, Lebanon

Day 1:

After only one day, I can already say that volunteering at Shatila may be one of the best decisions I have ever taken in my 25 years as a cricket coach.

It is extremely rewarding to see smiles on the faces of children, most of whom are living in conditions we can’t even imagine, as they play cricket for the first time. At first, I was worried the children wouldn’t take to cricket, but even the adults in attendance were surprised to see the levels of excitement. This can only grow and I hope across the next 4 days we can keep up our energy and keep the momentum going.

When I first arrived at the camp, I saw the KEY symbol in the building and it was heartbreaking to learn the stories of these refugees.

My plan to show a cricket video as an introduction went very well and it gave the local support team and children a quick overview.

100 childre, aged 8-13, attended on the first with 8 local support staff and they were simply brilliant. The adults are now saying they want to run more camps with young adults too!

I hope we will have the support and resources to continue this initiative in years to come. I also sincerely hope cricket will change some of their lives.

Shahidul Alam (Ratan) – CKC CEO

A Jubilee Story

I have been working with SEN (special educational needs) children at Jubilee primary school every Tuesday for a number of years. The age and ability of the children varies considerably with each session adapted specially to include children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Most of the children I work with have autism which makes it difficult for them to interact with other people, including their peers and teachers. They also have other issues with behaviour and this can mean they are very disruptive to the other children.

Playing team games is a challenge as they often find taking turns hard to deal with, so we play a number of different sports, including cricket, which are adapted to suit their needs. Little games work particularly well, for example, catching and throwing, new age curling and target throwing are very popular because they are easy to understand and can be demonstrated visually.

Visual demonstrations are vital when working with these children, but you must make sure you get it right – as I discovered recently!

During a lesson, I had a problem with my foot and needed to take my shoe off to relieve the pain, so I whipped my shoe off and turned around to find that all the children were now standing with only one shoe on!

This was hilarious, but also brilliant because the children were doing exactly what I have always said – watch Denise and copy what I do.

To provide some added benefit to the sessions, we always incorporate some numeracy and speech and language skills into the games. This has worked fantastically and given the children greater confidence to do things for themselves. They also learn important social skills, such as being patient with others, sharing and not getting angry when mistakes are made, but, instead, learning from them and trying again.

These skills may seem quite easy to learn, but, for a child with autism, it is extremely difficult.

It is amazing to see the children work so hard and have so much fun every week. They love their PE sessions with me and the staff often comment on how the children have progressed with other lessons in school as a result of their PE.

I’m very proud of these lessons and long may they continue!

Denise O’Neill – CKC Inclusion Coach