"Cricket for Change has enabled me to make good friends, to experience things that I never thought possible; it has given me confidence in challenging life situations."
Ruzivo Kamuriwo is testament to just how great an impact the Hit The Top (HTT) programme can have on any young person who has the determination to reach their goals.
Ruzivo was a C4C HTT Peer Leader during 2011.
Ruzivo (pictured above with other C4C coaches at a recent 'StreetChance' Estates Competition) left Zimbabwe along with his mum, dad and sister in 2003 and they set up home in East London and attended William Morris School in Wathamstow.
He has both a learning and physical disability which has left him with very little use in his left arm. In Zimbabwe, his sporting opportunities were limited to say the least and cricket wasn’t a sport he had any exposure to whatsoever.
It was only until he took part in a cricket lesson in school (the William Morris School in 2006) he actually picked up a bat and bowled a ball for the first time. Ruzivo was hooked on the game, he realized by playing cricket he had the chance to have his moment of glory by bowling out a batsmen or carrying out amazing pieces of fielding which has now become his speciality.
Ruzivo tells us of his first encounter with C4C; “My first experience of Cricket for Change was when one of their coaches came into my school and showed me that I could play and enjoy cricket.
The C4C coach, Adam Hall, was so impressed with Ruzivo’s rapid development that he included him in the Essex County squad. He stood out amongst all the coaches as a player who put his heart and soul into everything he did and was a great motivator for his team mates.
Ruzivo getting some bowling tips from Otis Gibson, former England bowling coach
Adam identified Ruzivo as a player who had the potential to make the step up into the disability hard ball league, this was where he would come up against accomplished and experienced players who had left the softball version of the game long behind them.
What also had to be considered was the amount of added responsibility that Ruzivo’s would have to come to terms with, i.e. getting himself to meeting points for the team coach, spending many hours away from home, attending training sessions and having his position in the team assessed on a weekly basis.
Many young players have difficulty getting to grips with all the elements that go along with playing representative cricket, Ruzivo didn’t and with his determination to prove himself at a higher level he became a great example to the rest of the London disability team.
In a difficult first season for the squad (back in 2007) he learn’t something positive from each game he played in which used to help him fully focus on going into the 2008 season with more confidence. All of which would bring him and the team greater rewards. At one stage the selectors for the full England disability team monitored Ruzivo’s progress too and had an interest in how he performed in the game.
The added responsibility put on Ruzivo had a noticeable improvement on his confidence and outlook on life. His teachers remarked on his demeanor within school and saw a big improvement on his grades.
Ruzivo says (in 2011); “I play for the Essex M.L.D team, and would like to help other young people access and enjoy playing cricket like I do".
And on his job as a Hit The Top Peer Leader, Ruzivo comments: "My role is to talk with the young people on the Hit the Top programme and ensure that we keep improving and developing it, and organise and co-ordinate the coaching sessions provided."
Playing cricket has gone some way to playing a part in this change but it’s mainly down to Ruzivo’s determination to excel and be a shining example to those around him.
Ruzivo pictured below with fellow Hit The Top Peer Leader, Steffan McKenzie