Currently men and women’s international teams from Japan Cricket are touring Scotland as part of a cricket tour celebrating 150 years linking the two countries through this sport.
But there is another reason why the Scots are so keen to welcome their Japanese visitors. That is because of the work undertaken by the Japan Cricket Association to help rebuild the communities left devastated by the tsunami of 2011. In particular, the award winning charity Cricket for Smiles, which aims to buy new sports equipment to replace that which was destroyed in the 1,500 tsunami affected schools; and to set up coaching clinics for the children of these communities, many of them left orphaned by the disaster.
On Friday 3 May the tour arrived at George Watson’s College where the woman's international team met the Girls’ 1st XI who had raised £1570 for Cricket for Smiles. Weather permitting the girls were due to take on the Japanese women at Myreside at 5pm, although at lunchtime it did not look likely.
The cheque was handed over by S6 pupil and team captain, Elinor Brown who said, “When the cricket team learned of the work of Cricket for Smiles and read about children affected by the tsunami, we wanted to raise as much as we could to help the work of the charity – sport is such a brilliant way to change children’s lives and we hope our contribution helps.”
The money was raised over the last three weeks through a raffle with some significant prizes the girls persuaded friends and parents to donate; a coffee morning with homebaking, bacon rolls, a tombola and things like ‘guess the sweets in the jar’ – which doubled as a great get together before the cricket season started and raised several hundred pounds; and a bake sale at a Watsonian Cricket Club training night. In addition, a small top-up donation of £100 has been given by Japanese business, Mitsubishi, in Livingston in recognition of the Japanese visit and because the firm was impressed by the work the girls had already done in fundraising.
Liz Smith MSP coaches the girls and has been responsible for running girls' cricket at George Watson's for over 30 years. Liz said, “Cricket for Smiles is clearly a charity which has captured the hearts and minds of many cricketers around the world. What it has achieved following the devastation of the 2011 tsunami is extraordinary and it is the very reason why the girls’ cricket team at George Watson’s College set about raising lots of money to support the young children of Kessenuma. The girls’ enthusiastic efforts, along with that of their parents, has provided added focus for the season and they are greatly honoured to be able to hand over their cheque to the Japan international women’s team when they visited the School.”