TWO refugees from Afghanistan have been using their love of cricket to shine in their new lives in North Yorkshire.

Fahim and Ajjaz, both 17, didn't know each other when they left their native country. Fahim, left the city of Jalalabad and Ajjaz left Baghlan.

Arriving in England in the summer of 2022 as unaccompanied asylum seekers, the pair endured a "harrowing" journey whilst fleeing after the Taliban regained power in their homeland.

The two boys then spent a week in London and then a subsequent month in Leeds where they met for the first time and immediately became close friends. A month later, they began their new life in Cawood, near Selby, after being fostered by local resident Jenny Scanlon.

York Press: Fahim and Ajjaz with their foster carer Jenny ScanlonFahim and Ajjaz with their foster carer Jenny Scanlon (Image: North Yorkshire Council)

Due to not being able to speak English, both Fahim and Ajjaz are now enrolled in York College's English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) course. They have also joined Cawood Cricket Club in Selby, where they have started to excel.

Speaking on the journey they've undertaken, foster parent Jenny Scanlon said: "Fahim and Ajjaz have faced extraordinary challenges in their young lives and watching them flourish and develop has been uplifting. It has not been easy for them. They have grappled with grief and depression after living through war and having to leave their loved ones and their homeland.

"There has been a lot of trauma and upset not to mention the culture shock. When they arrived, they spoke hardly any English and each and every day has been a steep learning curve including mastering using a microwave and tumble dryer."

Ajjaz added: "England is such a fantastic country and I am so pleased to be living in such a friendly community where everyone has made us feel so welcome. I’ve been playing cricket since the age of three.

York Press: Fahim and Ajjaz have faced extraordinary challenges in their young lives, but cricket is playing a major part in helping them to flourish and developFahim and Ajjaz have faced extraordinary challenges in their young lives, but cricket is playing a major part in helping them to flourish and develop (Image: North Yorkshire Council)

"I used to play all day long in the streets and mountains of Afghanistan. My family didn’t have a lot of money to afford a bat and ball, so my friends and I used rolled-up socks and tree branches, but our love for the sport always remained.

"Since playing for Cawood I feel so happy. I now have aspirations to one day become a professional cricketer."

The chair of Cawood Cricket Club, Matthew Stead, said: "Over the summer season it was great to see them get involved with the club, improve and grow in confidence and become integral members of the team."

Success for the boys has been extending beyond the boundaries of the cricket pitch. York College foundation English and maths tutor, Helen Wilson, said: "Ajjaz has told his story to GCSE students who were studying a book about a refugee and it really hit home. Fahim enjoys collecting new vocabulary and is thinking about a future as a policeman.

“Playing cricket has really made them feel welcome here. Although I know nothing about cricket, I have promised them I will go to watch them one day. I am proud of them both."