Queen honours Khoja volunteer


Stanmore Jamaat member Afzal Pradhan has been awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) in the New Year Honours List 2020 by Her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of his work as a Volunteer Cricketeer and services to cricket during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Here he explains his motivations for volunteering and shares the excitement of the Cricket World Cup.

“To be honest, the first question that came to my mind when I heard about the BEM was ‘why me?’ I genuinely feel there are so many people out there who deserve this award more than me.

However, even though I never volunteer for the sake of the recognition, I am truly honoured and humbled to receive this accolade, and sincerely hope the award will inspire others to volunteer and ultimately open doors to new opportunities. At the same time, this honour will not change my motivation other than inspire me to continue and learn from my roles and contribute to our society in a positive way.

Beacon in society

I’d like to take this moment to say how proud I am for my Khoja community, whom I represent at the KSIMC of London, and in particular the sports wing, Stanmore Jaffery. SJ has allowed me to express the skill and knowledge I have learned from major UK events and apply them to local events within our community (Salaam Cup and SJRS).

I sincerely hope we will embrace this award and continue to represent KSIMC in a constructive way with a message of unity, peace and diversity. Furthermore, I hope we can demonstrate how KSIMC is a beacon in society with the positive message it portrays.

The Cricket World Cup was my fifth major event as a volunteer and by far the most challenging and enjoyable.

It actually started in June 2018, a year before the tournament kicked off. I began as an Interviewer (called Selector) for potential volunteer candidates, with 1-2-1 interviews and group activities at the Oval, Bristol and in Hampshire as well as at Lords, the home of cricket.

Video star!

In January 2019, I was selected to participate in a volunteer promotional video with James Taylor (ex-England cricketer) at Lords, where we also launched the volunteers’ uniform. The video was shown to over 4,000 volunteers at all the training sessions at ten venues across the country. The photographs were published on the ICC website and the organisers put my picture on banners and game information emails for ticket holders!

Leading up to the tournament, I assisted at the CWC19 Trophy Tour Super Saturday in Bristol and worked with ex-players including Azhar Ali and Michael Vaughan to promote the competition to the public. I was even drafted in as a cage umpire at the last minute after the scheduled umpire failed to arrive, umpiring six games in front of thousands of visitors with BBC hosts Noreen Khan and Bobby Friction.

For the CWC19 Opening Ceremony held on The Mall in London, I assisted with accreditation for the events and production teams, performers, artists and players.

Incredible excitement

For the actual tournament, my ‘Cricketeer’ role was initially Team Member in Spectator Services at Bristol and Lords. At Lords, the organisers asked me to step up to Team Leader and I was in charge of the busy North Gate during all my five shifts – including the final. I encouraged my team to engage and enjoy every moment with the spectators to make it memorable for everyone.

The excitement of the tournament was incredible with a vast array of noise, colours and festivities as countries from all over the world brought in their cultures. As volunteers, there was no choice but to be swept up in this euphoria, and it inspired us to perform to the best of our ability and give our all.

It is so difficult to say what I enjoyed the most. The obvious answer would be the final which England won in such dramatic circumstances and which will go a long way in the memory as one of the momentous days not only in cricket but in sport in general.

Embracing the challenge

However, for me, the most enjoyable moment was the Trophy Tour in Bristol. I never expected to be drafted in as an umpire. However, I embraced the challenge and loved working with the team of stars without being overawed!

My proudest moment? Being selected to appear in the promotional video and launch the volunteer uniform for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.”

See the video here: https://youtu.be/LqCocgDHaRY

Afzal Pradhan BEM