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Tanvir, Mr Tiger, coaches young boys and a girl in cricket nets at Tiger Cricket Club

Meeting Mr Tiger

The London Tigers Cricket Club has become a force to be reckoned with, both on the national cricket scene and in the life of the borough’s young people.

Based in Spikes Bridge Park in Southall, the club, which leases its premises from Ealing Council, has become an important hub for the local community, especially its thriving South Asian population.

The club is using cricket and other sports to transform the lives of young people, engaging with some of the hardest to reach groups in the borough.

At the heart of this work is Tanvir Ahamed who, since 2017, has been head coach, mentor and grounds keeper for the junior and senior cricket teams as well as introducing cricket teams for young women at the club, and helping youngsters launch careers in sport.

Tanvir was inspired to take up coaching after seeing young people in the local park, with nothing to do.

Tanvir said: “I went up to them and said, ‘why don’t you play cricket?’ It was hard for me to convince them.”

He started by offering free cricket sessions in the park, then going into schools, gaining the trust of the parents and teachers, and encouraging more young people to try their hand at the game.

There are now more than 300 individual players taking part in the club’s activities, with 13 cricket teams, both adult and youth, playing in the Middlesex Cricket league and Middlesex Colts junior league, Middlesex youth and development league.

Tanvir introduced female cricket at the Tigers, with 2 of his talented South Asian female youth players going on to be selected to play at county cricket level.

Councillor Polly Knewstub, cabinet member for thriving communities, said: “Tanvir is a powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm, whose obvious passion for cricket is infectious. He’s a real hero in Southall, an amazing role model who is helping inspire a new generation of cricket talent.”

The council supports the club’s development, carrying out repairs to the drainage system, marking out and maintaining the football and cricket pitches, and removing litter. Park rangers and park guards are also on hand to provide support in tackling any anti-social behaviour issues.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the Tigers playing programme, although Tanvir ensured he kept in contact over the internet with young players and their families, encouraging them to keep active.

For good measure, in the winter months he helps the Tigers football teams, standing in as coach, referee and groundsman.

For Tanvir, sports, and cricket in particular, are an excellent way of keeping young people away from the dangers of modern life.

“Parents used to come to me worried because their son was not coming home, and they feared he was getting involved in gangs,” said Tanvir. “Now they come to me and say my son is not coming home because he is playing cricket.”

Recently, Southall has seen the arrival of refugee families from Afghanistan. Tanvir believes sport is an ideal tool for helping new arrivals feel more at home and make friends.

Tanvir said: “We’ve a few kids who came recently from Afghanistan involved in our club and playing. I allow more time with them and mentor them to ensure they are getting the same support as our other young players.”

In 2022, Tanvir picked up the English Cricket Board Cricket Coach of the Year National Award and Middlesex Cricket Coach of the Year. Last year, he was awarded the LV Insurance Pride of Cricket Community Hero award.

The London Tigers were also named joint-Junior Club of the Year at the 2020 Ealing Sports Awards.

Tanvir reveals the key to being a good coach: “You need to know the player. What is very important to being a good coach is working out the person’s level of skill and experience and directing the support to build their confidence and develop their skills.”

He has become something of a celebrity in Southall, where he is commonly known as ‘Mr Tiger’. Large crowds now regularly turn out to watch the youth teams play and even just to watch them practise.

Tanvir recently gained his Level 3 professional coaching qualification, and the head coach has been passing on his coaching wisdom.

So far, the Tigers have trained 20 local young people and adults in level 1 cricket coaching in partnership with Middlesex Cricket.

“Sport can offer great careers, either as a player or a coach,” said Tanvir. “You can really break down barriers with sport.”

For more about The London Tigers go to: www.londontigers.org

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