Hong Kong: After weeks of cooking and cleaning in Hong Kong’s miserable homes, a group of Filipino domestic helpers are using their Sunday holiday for a potential hobby: cricket. And they are proving better instead.
Despite a background in the game, little coaching and very little time, SCC Day made an amazing impact, winning the Hong Kong Development League twice in its first two seasons and remaining unbeaten after moving to the main divisions this year.
Along the way, she inspired the Philippines’ first national women’s cricket team, which provided seven of its players, while the remnants of British colonialism shook the dormant cricket scene in Hong Kong.
“We are all domestic helpers,” said Josie Arimas, 52, captain and founder of SCC Day. There are some new players who took over the ball for the first time.
Onions are far from everyday life for a satisfying group day batting on the ball overlooked by the green hills and tower blocks at Kang Village Cricket Ground.
Many of them work in the Philippines six days a week, six days a week, from midnight to midnight, helping their children and their families.
“They are not comfortable. They are tough,” Arimaz said.
Six hours a month
The 400,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong have many stories of abuse and exploitation, most of them from the Philippines or Indonesia.
A domestic worker watching the day said that instead of a government rest day each week, her employer gives her only six hours off a month, and sleeps in the room.
Read: Anger over Hong Kong court’s ‘biased’ rule for migrant maids
For Day Player Lisa Avelino, cricket is an opportunity to escape the hardships of everyday life.
“It’s very comfortable, it makes my day important,” she said. “It’s good to be active and you forget all the stress and trouble and everything.”
During this month’s 45-run victory over the Cavaliers, a team from the Hong Kong Cricket Club, a well-established and well-built team of the day in the popular sport of baseball in the Philippines, proved it.
Positive hits helped set up a challenging 167-6, before Divas limited the Cavaliers to 122-4, including two side-on, straight hits on the stumps.
The team was encouraged by an appropriate band of teammates and supporters who picnicked with the boundary rope and operated the scoreboard.
“They are very passionate about it,” said Tracy Walker, captain of the Cavaliers, an independent member of Cricket Hong Kong. They all come here and they all see and they make it a day.
“They take one day off a week, and what do they do? They come and sit, cheer, train when they can. It’s very effective.”
Read: ‘Our income is not fixed’: Migrant workers returning to Indonesia seek targeted assistance
Just three years after their inception in 2017, Divas has already formed a development team, SCC Pinney, and aims to become a permanent force in Hong Kong cricket.
Team manager Aminesh Kulkarni, who co-founded the team with Arimas and set up a sponsorship to pay off arrears, equipment and other expenses, says the aim is to provide a positive entertainment for domestic workers on their day off.
“There is a culture of collecting in the Filipino. So if someone comes, some come. One player started spending time here, and now we have 32,” Kulkarni said.
“My goal is ultimately about 200. It’s going to be in the next few years.”
Read: Comment – The Worst Time to Become a Foreign Filipino Worker
Alvina Tom, Hong Kong’s director of cricket development and a Cavaliers player, said the day added a new element to the city’s sports, dominated by foreign and South Asian communities.
“What they brought to cricket in Hong Kong was their unity, teamwork and spirit of teamwork,” said Tom.
“And at the same time they can still maintain a very friendly attitude towards the opposition. I think it’s a good performance of the game.”
The team also serves as a support network for Dwivedi players who are separated from their families and far from home, according to Avelino.
“It’s not just about sports, it’s about meeting family. It’s a very close relationship, a sisterhood,” she said.
“Being away from home, forming a group of people doing the same thing is very powerful. We love it and we look forward to doing it on Sunday.”