BRISTOL Afghans continue their highly encouraging first foray in Gloucestershire’s Vitality U19 T20 in Association with Stuart Turner with a trip tonight to Twyford House.
The newest side to take part in the popular age-group competition last week recorded their first win, chasing down a target of 182 away to Bristol with seven wickets and almost four overs in hand.
And a 13-strong squad of players who are mainly aged 16 would love nothing more than to build on that success with another strong display at Penpole Lane.
The very fact that this side exists at all is a triumph for the determination shown by a handful of people behind the scenes who had a dream and made it come true, particularly Heather Booth di Giovanni.
She originally became involved with Bristol Afghans CC, who play in the North Somerset Sunday League, back in 2017 as scorer and secretary.
Realising that the needs of younger players also needed to be met, she has helped drive the formation of this U19 squad, covering much of the associated costs out of her own pocket.
The Gloucestershire Cricket Foundation and Chance to Shine stepped forward to help with training sessions and assisted with the recruitment of Ahmed Hassan as coach while Hinton Charterhouse CC, through Scyld Berry, generously donated bats, pads and gloves for the youngsters.
Bristol West Indian Phoenix, too, are playing an important role by allowing the U19s to hire their nets and use Rose Green as a home ground. And secretary Sam Mullally organised a practice match between BWIP and the U19s which has proved to be crucial preparation for these Vitality games.
Heather said: “I’ve always had an interest in refugees and people from different cultures, and I particularly like the Afghan culture … there is so much vitality and energy.
“I love these boys’ enthusiasm for cricket, and to see their joy when they won … there’s nothing quite like it.”
She added: “Ahmed is a wonderful coach and so devoted that he drives down from Swindon to help the boys, some of whom cycle to the matches. They’re very robust.”
Bristol Afghans are currently second in the South Performance League which is led by unbeaten Golden Hill.
TUESDAY JUNE 28
South Performance: Twyford House v Bristol Afghans.
North Development: Charlton Kings v Cirencester.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 29
U16 North Performance: Great Rissington v Hatherley & Reddings.
FRIDAY JULY 1
U16 South Development: Carsons & Mangotsfield v Golden Hill.
MONDAY JULY 4
U16 South Performance: Twyford House v Rockhampton, Winterbourne v Thornbury.
TUESDAY JULY 5
North Performance: Dumbleton v Thornbury, Stroud v Frocester.