Kawsar Khan, captain of the Rheinland Riders Cricket Club | Credit: Kai Dambach
Kawsar Khan, captain of the Rheinland Riders Cricket Club | Credit: Kai Dambach

The captain of the Rheinland Riders Cricket Club in Bonn found a new home in Germany thanks to a favorite sport from his home country. The sport also helps him get acquainted with other refugees who have just arrived.

Kawsar Khan shuffles up next to a box, gripping a yellow ball in his right hand. His boxy frame starts to pick up speed as he takes a step just beyond the box. His right arm flies like a clock hand on steroids and lets the ball go at the top of the arc. That yellow pill screams towards his teammate on the other side of the gym, who is standing just in front of three wickets barely knee-high. It smashes the wood behind his teammate. A scream and a smile explode from Khan’s face.

This is his element.

Khan came to Germany from Bangladesh in 2000 when he was just 12 years old. Khan’s father, who was born in Pakistan, was involved in business and politics in the south-Asian country. Being Pakistani made life very difficult for Khan’s father and forced them to leave for a new life. They found that new life in Germany, but Khan had a very difficult time adjusting to the new people, new rules, and a country that he said was not welcome to outsiders.

One of the staples of life in Bangladesh that was certainly missing in Germany at the turn of the century was cricket. It was a sport that Khan and other kids throughout south Asia played with a fiery passion that Germans reserved for soccer. Khan went without cricket for many years and struggled to find his footing in Germany. That all changed in 2008 when he co-founded the Rheinland Riders Cricket Club in Bonn with Bryan R. Khan found his way again and got back into what was missing in his life.

With the influx of migrants and refugees coming to Germany, some of whom hail from cricket-mad nations, Khan is thrilled that the quality of cricket is improving in his new country. Some of the locals have taken notice, including his German wife.

Khan thinks Germans are much more welcoming to refugees and migrants now than they were when he first arrived nearly two decades ago. He sees the refugees and migrants in the cricket club getting a lot of help from schoolmates and the state. The club also helps them integrate into the country by using German as much as possible and keeping a taste of home in a faraway land.

“Cricket has a homeland feeling between us (players) and we can sit together and have a talk about life and how it’s going. That helps not only me but everyone,” said Khan.