Caacupé Cricket is a community project that aims to help the disadvantaged children in one of Buenos Aires’s villas (“slum” or “shanty town”) using athletics, education and art as catalysts for generating social integration and inclusion.
It begins, of course, with cricket:
Since it was first introduced in Argentina by British immigrants in the early decades of the nineteenth century, cricket has traditionally been an upper class and elite sport. In 2009 the Argentine cricket player and coach Daniel Juárez had the idea to expand the horizons of his sport and he began a youth cricket team in Villa 21-24. The focus of his project was to employ cricket as a tool for social inclusion.
Daniel’s first step was to build a cricket community within the villa, not an easy task, considering the absence of recreational facilities and lack of open space in the very densely populated area. Despite logistical adversities, however, Daniel’s project took root and the Caacupé Cricket team was born. The initial team had only six players but has now grown to boast more than fifty, and a girls team has also been incorporated as well.
Once they had established an in-depth understanding of the sport and had practiced and developed their skills, the Caacupé players started participating in matches and tournaments, leaving the villa to travel to not only other destinations in Argentina, but also to other countries in South America as well. In 2011, Caacupé players traveled to Peru to play in the South American youth cricket championship. This was the first time that the young athletes had flown on an airplane. In 2012, Caacupé players formed part of the national youth team that travelled to Chile and came out victorious in yet another annual youth cricket tournament.
Though dedication, practice and enthusiasm, the Caacupé players have succeeded in becoming part of the larger, global cricket community, and they continue to challenge the legacy of their sport as one reserved only for the more privileged classes.
Today cricket is an international sport played in all seven continents around the globe, even in Antarctica. However, the culture of the sport still remains closely tied to its English origins, and specifically, to the English language. This is where Dream On became involved.
In June of 2013 Dream On organized a storytelling performance for the community of Caacupé; not only the players attended, but so did their siblings, their parents, their friends and other members of their community. Storytellers Jamie Oliviero and Alejandra Alliende teamed up to provide a night of bilingual storytelling, sharing and inspiration.
Not wanting the story to end there, Dream On furthered its participation by founding and sponsoring the Caacupé School of English, providing the children of the Caacupé community with the opportunity and resources to learn the foreign language. Many enthusiastic children showed up for the first day of class and have since continued attending to progress and advance their English studies.
In December 2013, during its annual meeting in Dubai, the International Cricket Council awarded Caacupé the “Best Spirit of Cricket Initiative Award.”