In Hong Kong, Filipino servants play cricket to forget their daily lives

Published on Tuesday 24 November 2020 at 08:56 AM

After a tiring week spent serving the Hong Kong family, Filipino servants take advantage of their Sunday rest to indulge in a somewhat unfair pastime: cricket.

Although beginner and slightly trained, the SCC Divas team, made up of Filipino domestic workers, performed wonderfully.

He thus managed to climb into the upper division at the end of his first two seasons.

His reputation has also crossed Hong Kong’s borders. Seven players have joined the Philippine national women’s cricket team.

These domestic workers, called “assistants” or assistants, have shaken the quiet world of Hong Kong cricket, which was inherited from the time the region was a British colony.

“We are all domestic workers. Some are new and are holding a cricket ball in their hands for the first time,” said Josie Arimas, 52-year-old SCC Divas captain behind the team.

The joy of playing on the cricket ground in Pok village, which offers a panoramic view of the city’s huge skyscrapers and steep hills, allows them to forget about their daily lives.

Most work from six in the morning, six days a week, in a tight apartment.

– away from their children –

For hours, they are busy with household chores, shopping and caring for the children of families who are far away from their lineage, who remain in the Philippines.

“They have no rest and are resistant,” says Ms. Arimus.

The international financial center of approximately 7.5 million residents has about 400,000 domestic workers, mainly Philippines and Indonesian women.

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Defenders of human rights regularly condemn their exploitation by unscrupulous recruitment agencies and employers.

As the Divas grow, one of the servants explains that they do not have the weekly holiday required by the government. Her employer only gives her six hours a month and she sleeps in the living room.

For a player, Lisa Avalino, cricket is a chance to get away from it.

“It’s so relaxing, it gives meaning to my day,” she says.

“Being active is good, it allows you to forget about stress, problems and everything else.”

In November, in their victory against the Cavaliers, a team from the Hong Kong Cricket Club, Divas, once again showed their skills, inherited from baseball, a sport that was very popular in the Philippines.

The match took place under the encouragement of his teammates and supporters.

– “team spirit” –

“They are very emotional. They all come here, they spend the day and the clock,” Cavaliers captain Tracy Walker said excitedly.

“They have a weekly day, and what do they do? They come and sit and watch, clap, practice whenever they can.”

In 2017, three years after their creation, Divaz formed a second team, made up of beginners, and wanted to be more sustainable than ever.

Aminesh Kulkarni, who co-founded the team with Ms. Arimas, raises funds to pay dues, equipment and other expenses.

As a manager, he wants above all to offer them an enjoyable activity.

Kulkarni recalls, “Filipinos like to come together. So, one person just needs to come and follow others. One player started spending time here and now we have 32.”

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“My goal is for us to be around 200. It will be reached within two years.”

Alvina Tam, who is in charge of cricket development in Hong Kong, and a player with the Cavaliers, say that the disabled have revived the sport dominated by the migrant and South Asian community.

“What they have brought is their sense of solidarity and team spirit,” she emphasizes.

For Ms. Avellino, one of these Philippines players, who often return only once a year for the best, this team is also a moral endorsement.

“It’s not just about the game, it’s also about finding the family. It’s like family relationships,” she said.

“Being away from home, people doing the same things are very empowering. We love it and can’t wait to have a Sunday.”

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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