""I went along, got involved and that was it. For me cricket is a chance to play just like anyone else. It's a great escape and I've made some amazing friends""
C4C Hit the Top Peer Leader prepares for Dubai adventure
Feb 2, 2012
By Charles Randall
(original article entitled, 'Broadbridge Heath CC spinner prepares for Dubai Adventure and published on the Club Cricket Conference website - 24 January 2012)
Fred Bridges, a spin bowler for Broadbridge Heath CC in the West Sussex League, has retained his place in the England Physical Disabilities squad for the international series against Pakistan in Dubai in February, and this honour should help his work as a new Hit the Top Peer Leader with the Cricket for Change charity.
Bridges, 21, suffers from hemiplegia down his right side, but he has the ability to compete in open cricket, something out of the reach of most handicapped cricketers beyond this England group. The squad are training at Loughborough before departure, though there was disappointment for Adam Leach, of Oxford CC, when he had to withdraw injured from the trip.
The England side are scheduled to play three matches against Pakistan at the ICC Global Cricket Academy after their arrival for acclimatisation on February 7, and the two parties will have a chance to watch Alastair Cook's England play Pakistan in a one-day international in Dubai on February 21.
Bridges looks like having a busy year with Cricket for Change, an organisation who do incredible work for the disabled and under-privileged youth in the London area. A coach at Cricket for Change, the Woodford Wells CC bowler Donovan Miller, is touring with the Club Cricket Conference in Oman in March.
A notable achievement for C4C, as they are known, has been the building of a beautiful Cricket Centre at Wallington in Surrey, opened in 2004 under the presidency of Phil Tufnell, complete with its 'Tuffers Bar'.
Cricket for Change started life as the London Community Cricket Association, formed after the Brixton riots in 1981, and this well-run charity has used the game to transform the lives of so many people. The examples related by the young leaders on the website www.cricketforchange.org.uk always tug at the emotions.
From a cricket match at Feltham Youth Offenders Institute -- where the prisoners beat the guards off the last ball -- to the story of Ruzivo Kamuriwo, a disabled Zimbabwean boy, one can find examples of Cricket for Change's impact. The determined Kamuriwo, like Fred Bridges, is now a peer leader.
Kamuriwo, with learning disability and very little use in his left arm, might have been one of life's losers after emigrating from Zimbabwe with his family. It was at William Morris School in Wathamstow that Adam Hall, a Cricket for Change coach, showed him the game for the first time in 2006. Kamuriwo became hooked, with virtuoso fielding his speciality, graduating quickly to hardball. Within a few years he was selected for Essex and was being considered for the England Disabled squad.
The website related: "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."
However, Ruzivo did not make England squad bound for Dubai, but he will be following the fortunes of his Cricket for Change colleague Fred.
England Physical Disability squad:
James Williams (Cheshire, capt), Matthew Askin (Shropshire), David Parcell (Wales), Daniel Hamm (Cheshire), Daniel Holder (Cheshire), Fred Bridges (Sussex), Shaun Rigby (Shropshire), Gareth Walton (Durham), , Samuel Wyles (Warwickshire), Liam Thomas (Yorkshire), Dan Reynaldo (Hampshire), Callum Flynn (Lancashire), Gordon Laidlaw (Yorkshire), Matthew Partington (Lancashire).