03 Jan

Families of the Christchurch mosque attack victims got to meet their cricketing heroes this weekend. The Pakistan cricket team, which is playing a test match against New Zealand at Hagley Oval this week, took time out from training on Saturday to meet 20 family members of four Pakistani people who were killed in the March 15, 2019, attack. 

Pakistan cricket team manager Mansoor Rana said team members had gone through the pain of terrorism, and wanted to console the Christchurch families and show solidarity. “We can’t fill their loss and space, but we wanted to bring smiles on their faces again.” 

Family members were invited to a training session, but bad weather forced them inside at the Oval, where team members acknowledged New Zealand’s response to the massacre. 

“The way they stood against it became an example for the whole world. The world needs to learn that terrorism has no religion and no ethnicity, this needs to be condemned and eradicated,” Mansoor said. 

Players gave the children cricket balls and each family received signed test cap. Management also gave the families tickets to watch all five days of the test. 

Abdullah Naeem, who lost his father Naeem Shaheed in the mosque attacks, said it was “quite nice” to meet the cricketers and hear them talk. “You could tell they were really humble about it and were feeling that connection.” 

He said it felt like the team had their backs and were still thinking about the families, despite the attacks having happened almost two years ago. “Some people forget about it, but they are still concerned and caring.” 

Team members also met with the Pakistani community on Friday during an event organised by the University of Canterbury Pakistani Students’ Association and the United XI cricket team, attended by about 100 people. 

Association project director Usma Azhar said the event was very worthwhile because it was the first time most in the community had such close contact with their cricketing heroes. 

John Stephenson 


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