Corporal Eli Dey speaking about the roles women play in the Royal Air Force as well as her journey through cricket within the Armed Forces

Tuesday 18th June 2019

Children from communities across the West Midlands took part in a recent indoor 6-a-side cricket tournament in Birmingham. The Royal Air Force Women’s Cricket XI Captain, Corporal Eli Dey spoke to everyone there.  The event, hosted by the Forward Drive Cricket Academy consisted of six teams and featured a total of 43 children aged between 15 and 16.

Before the final, Corporal Dey, gave a speech about the role women play in the RAF and described all the opportunities she has enjoyed with Armed Forces cricket. Her speech gave the children a great insight into the various roles available within the RAF and she was well received by the young players.

After a highly competitive day’s cricket, the team from Wicketz Birmingham came out on top after beating Wicketz Redditch in the final.

After the tournament reached its conclusion, Waleed Khan (pictured above), a terrorist attack survivor, talked about how cricket has helped him recover from the trauma he has suffered.

Khan was one of hundreds of school children who were caught up in the terrorist attack that targeted his school. An Army Public School in the Peshawar Region, back in December 2014 that killed a total of 149 people.

Khan was shot a total of six times during the attack and he admits that the attacks left him ‘mentally and physically broken’ from the ordeal. He saw his class mates, teachers and fellow cricket team-mates killed in front of his own eyes.  Having been left for dead, it was only by a chance that someone found him breathing. However, through cricket, he has rebuilt his life and the outlook he takes. An emotional Khan said:

“You see a lot of humans in life but not always humanity.  I used to live for me but now I live for others. Everyone needs an aim to life and my aim is to live to help others.”

Khan, who represented the Forward Drive Cricket Academy team at the event added:

“It is great to see such common ground and positivity between us (the children) and those (The RAF) running the event, it is great to see different beliefs coming together over something as simple as cricket.”

Event Organiser Sergeant Ben Peel, who works for The Specialist Engagement Team at RAF Cosford was very pleased with the tournament and praised Waleed Khan saying:

“Khan’s speech was very poignant and gave all present an exceptional understanding of how cricket builds not just individuals, but communities, into stronger teams that cannot be broken by hatred from others.

“The aim of the tournament was to increase awareness of what the Royal Air force, and the Armed Forces do, and to bring the local community together and give those from all backgrounds a fair and equal chance to compete and succeed in sport.  The event has been an amazing success with Waleed Khan’s speech was a tremendous honour to witness. “


Sergeant Peel then went on to thank those who made the event possible and hinted that he would be looking to make this an annual event.

“I would like to thank Waleed Khan for his excellent speech, Forward Drive Cricket Academy for hosting this event, Corporal Eli Dey for providing her support and finally, but most importantly, I would like to thank all the players who competed today.”

“Overall, our aims and objectives were reached and those participating have already asked for another event next year. We are now aiming to reach this out to other regions and push toward a national competition over the next few years.”

Images: ©Crown Copyright (SAC Matt Smith)

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