Peace & development

Ocean 12’s winning ways

In Sydney's west, a team of Sri Lankans - most of them Tamil refugees - is playing cricket to find support, learn English, integrate into Australia and take their minds off their uncertain visa status. And they're winning.

Out of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, the Ocean 12 cricket team has emerged as a powerhouse of Australian amateur cricket. The team’s members are all Sri Lankan, and most are Tamil refugees. They play regularly in Sydney’s west and have earned a reputation as tough opponents – indeed, few can beat them.

In November 2016, they won the national Last Man Stands T20 competition held at the Gold Coast. An international amateur cricket league, Last Man Stands has approximately 90,000 registered players worldwide.

As the Australian winners, they’ve qualified to compete against the league’s best teams in Cape Town in South Africa this December. It’s unclear at this stage how many of them will be able to go, however: many of the men are on bridging visas, and if they do leave the country to compete, they will not be allowed back into Australia on their return.

Ocean 12 credit Last Man Standing
Ocean 12 after their Nov 2016 Last Man Stands national T20 comp win. Source: Last Man Stands

The success of the Ocean 12 team is all the more astounding given that it was only formed in the second half of 2013, and most of the men had never met each other before or played cricket. Prior to this, they had been at Villawood or other detention centres around the country, after fleeing persecution in their home country and arriving onto Australian shores by boat during 2012 – hence their team name.

For them, cricket has been a way to create a new support group, to take their minds off the uncertainty around their visas and the ongoing trouble back home, to learn English, and to integrate into the Australian community. The off-field benefits for the men involved have been great.

While they were slow to get going with their on-field game, with time and practice they’ve improved rapidly. They’ve won the Sydney league competition two years running. Their win ratio for all games played in Last Man Stands competitions is an impressive 80.7 per cent.

In April this year, they became part of a new Anzac Day tradition by competing against a team from the Australian Navy in a 15-over match; Ocean 12 beat the Navy too.

 

Read and watch more about Ocean 12 here:

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