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The evening of Monday 10th December, proved to be another night of deserved success for Matiullah Haidar, a young cricket coach working for the cricket charity, Cricket for Change, as he collected and won the Spirit of London 'Achievement through Sports' Award.
The Spirit of London Awards are run by the Damilola Taylor Trust, with the purpose of recognising and highlighting the achievements of the positive things young people do that largely goes unreported.
This year’s awards night took place at the O2 Arena, Greenwich in front of an audience of over 10,000 people.
This award, presented to him on the night by Zoe Smith of Team GB, rightly recognises Matiullah’s work with the, Croydon and Surrey based, Refugee Cricket Project (run by Cricket for Change in partnership with the Refugee Council).
Matiullah, now 19, arrived by himself in the UK from Afghanistan at a young age in the wake of his family experiencing political problems. He left Afghanistan, not being able to speak or read English and having no idea where he was heading, other than hopefully to safety. He now supports refugees as a skilled translator as well as being an integral part of the Refugee Cricket Project (RCP). Matiullah is now a qualified cricket coach and has plans to progress further up the coaching pyramid.
Matiullah’s dedication to helping others and his sheer hard work has made it possible for many others to make progress in their own lives. He is kind, modest and incredibly grounded and one would struggle to meet another more deserving winner of this award and the achievements he has accomplished.
This award caps off a very successful year of acknowledgement for Matiullah, as 2012 saw him win the inaugural Beyond Sport 'Generation Ali Award' (presented by the great Muhammed Ali along with David Beckham) and named as 'Young Volunteer of the Year' by Surrey Cricket CCC local Natwest OSCA's which led him to being nominated for a National OSCA.
From the adversity of his early life it is through the example he sets as a brother and father figure to the other young refugees that are part of the RCP, which has set him apart. Matiullah tirelessly gives his time to act as a humble pillar of emotional strength and support to those who feel isolated and fearful and then helps them to grow in confidence in a safe and secure environment.
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