23 September 2019

How one man is using cricket to ensure immigrant children feel at home

| Lachlan Roberts
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Masud Rahman is wanting to make a difference in his local community. Photo: George Tsotsos

Masud Rahman knows first-hand how tough it was adjusting to life away from his home country, surrounded by people speaking a foreign language.

Translating what he really meant in his mother tongue to English when communicating with his peers, his colleagues and his cricket clubmates was a particularly frustrating barrier, and he soon came to realise how its links to a dip in confidence when trying to integrate into society.

It’s when he noticed this phenomenon in his local community, especially among young girls and boys, that he decided to change the status quo, doing what he knew and loved best: cricket.

Rahman created the Canberra Cricket Academy in 2014 as a platform to help young immigrant children develop basic cricket skills but, more importantly, to develop into confident people.

Working with kids from his local community – mostly sub-continent parents who place more of a focus on school than outdoor activities, as he says – the Bangladeshi native said he wants immigrant children to feel integrated into Australian society through the academy, particularly young girls.

“My main focus here is to help young kids become integrated into society. If I get them to play better cricket, they get more confident, they start to play with different boys and they interact more in their community,” he said.

“It’s not just about playing at the highest level. It is also about becoming good people.”

His academy has seen the growth of players playing above their age category and going into captain their local teams. Known for his unorthodox coaching methods, Rahman focuses on enhancing the natural ability of a player, with a secondary focus on technique.

“I don’t like to push them to change their own style. They don’t have to follow someone, they have to play at their own ability within themselves so that we can get something different, a new type of player,” he said.

“In Australia, players are coached from an early age so they lose their basic instinct. In Bangladesh, there is no coaching or very minimal coaching at the lowest level so the kids don’t lose their natural ability.”

The academy is currently a semi-volunteer run organisation, offering both free and paid sessions to cover costs of paid coaches. Players are also supplied with equipment funded personally by Rahman.

“I like to offer girls free access into the academy because I think it is very important to bring the girls into cricket. Although I only have two or three girls in the academy each year, it’s still more than ever before in the community,” he said.

Masud Rahman (left) with members of his academy. Photo: Supplied.

“The Australian women’s cricket community is strong at the moment and with the same ability as the men, a big future lies ahead for females in the sport.”

Looking ahead, Rahman’s ultimate goal is to develop a youth and sports centre within his community and to encourage more girls to give cricket a go.

“I want to learn more and to become more innovative. So my focus is to continue to learn so then I can teach my students more and then I can integrate into the community,” he shared.

“If I can make a difference in my local community, I’ll be proud.”

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