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November 15, 2012
Pakistan refugee free to follow cricket dream Downunder

DREAM COME TRUE Fawad Ahmed bowls during an Australian nets session at The Gabba on November 6, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
by Roslyn Morris, AIPS Secretary General
SYDNEY, November 15, 2012 - In some parts of the world it is the dream of almost every little boy to play cricket for his nation. And this dream is now a reality for Fawad Ahmed - a reality in a country far from home - a nation that today granted the talented leg-spin bowler a permanent visa.

"Fawad Ahmed to be granted a permanent visa, and the Australian cricket community congratulates him" - this was headline of today's Cricket Australia press release.

The Australian Immigration Minister Chris Brown had intervened personally to consider the case of the young man who left his home in northern Pakistan because he received death threats from religious fanatics who accused him of promoting Western values by following cricket as a player and coach and for supporting the education of women and girls.

“Fawad is Cricket Victoria’s Multicultural Liaison Officer and Harmony in Cricket Ambassador, and we look forward to seeing further contributions from him, not only to the cricket community, but to the greater Victorian community as well, ” Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland said.

Fawad, 30, who spent last week in Brisbane bowling his leg-spin to the Australian batsmen in preparation for the Vodafone Test series against South Africa, is very pleased with the Minister’s decision.

“I’m grateful to the government and everyone who helped me with my application. It is overwhelming, I’m really happy.”

Fawad dreams of one day playing at state level or in the KFC T20 Big Bash League, so this outcome brings him a step closer towards achieving those goals.

“The Australian cricket community has really come together in support of Fawad, and we are just so thrilled with the news," Sutherland added.

“This is proof that through cricket, we can help achieve life-changing outcomes for people.”

Australia’s opening batsman Ed Cowan, who scored his maiden Test century in Brisbane on Monday, has been a mentor and friend of Fawad’s during what has been an anxious time for everyone.

“We often see considerable negativity surrounding asylum seekers, so it’s incredibly pleasing that an educated, skilful and compassionate young man like Fawad has been given the chance to make a life for himself in Australia.

“We have all been touched by his story and immensely proud of how far he has come,” Cowan said.

And at a time when the Aussies have a distinct lack of talented spin bowlers we just might see Fawad Ahmed representing Australia sooner than we think.

Currently playing in Australia for South Africa's Proteas is Pakistan-born cricketer and leg-spin bowler Imran Tahir.

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