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Teenage Syrian refugees in Lebanon find cricket a welcome distraction

Cricket is emerging as a tool for social transformation and improving Syrian refugees’ education.
Mohammed Khier, head coach of Alsama cricket club, with cricketer Aya Fakhri Diab during practice in Al Marj camp.

BEIRUT — A group of teenage girls walks around Al Marj refugee camp in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley while everybody looks at them strangely as they continue their way to the field. Aya carries balls while Rahaf is in charge of the bat; Nariman is responsible for the stumps. The residents of the camp, just 9 kilometers (5 miles) from the Syrian border, are not accustomed to seeing these kinds of items. But the players don’t seem to care. They rush because it’s time for their cricket practice.

Rahaf, Nariman and Aya are some of the almost 600 teenagers that participate in the Alsama Cricket Club. This sport, which originated in England, was not very common in Lebanon until two and a half years ago when this NGO started training around 100 Syrian children and teenagers in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. Now they have 10 cricket hubs around the country with almost 50 players each.

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