BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
CRICKET star Sikandar Raza has revealed how his faith and upbringing have instilled him with a yearning passion to help children and underprivileged members of the community through his charity work.
The 35-year-old allrounder recently enjoyed a solid comeback to the national team fold and even had the honour of captaining a youthfu side in the three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Bangladesh which the hosts lost 2-1.
Raza was making a comeback to international cricket after a spell on the sidelines following a surgical procedure on his arm.
While his fine work for the Chevrons in the field has led to Raza being praised this term, his work off the pitch, helping children through his charity work has largely gone unnoticed.
The Pakistan-born star has been quietly using his earnings as a professional cricketer and standing to help those in need in a variety of ways although on most occasions he prefers no one knowing about it.
Last week Raza lit the faces of some disabled orphaned children in Epworth, a low income high density settlement, about 15 kilometres southeast of the capital, Harare, where he donated blankets and food items.
It’s just but one of the several trips Raza has made to several disadvantaged communities over the last couple of years in an effort to give back to the underprivileged, who have borne the brunt of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And, speaking for the first time about his desire to help those in need, Raza revealed how his upbringing and his faith had been a key factor on wanting to give children the things he never had, although he likes not getting too much attention for his deeds.
“What inspires me is the fact that charity is a massive part of my religion and that’s good enough reason,” Raza, who is a devout Muslim, told The Sports Hub in an exclusive interview
“On the recent visit to Epworth I got in touch with a friend, who works for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) and she gave me information about orphans, who are being looked after by random people because parents either died or left them. I felt the need to go there and offer some assistance where I can,” he said.
“The reception we got was great. We spoke to the families we were visiting and they welcomed us well. We stopped over where kids were playing football and distributed some food,” he said.
Unlike other local sportspersons, who have set up foundations to spearheads their charity initiatives, Raza says he doesn’t need to set up an organisation in order to do his charity work.
He says he will continue to give back wherever he can either individually or in partnership with other charity organisations, corporates or individuals.
“I don’t really need to have an organisation to do charity. In sha Allah I carry on doing it without being registered kind of way. We have a team and community with me so in sha Allah we continue,” he said.
Raza’s selflessness and generous nature has not gone unnoticed. He was on Friday honoured by the country of his birth for his charity work off the field of play by being included on the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s Honours List.
The Chevrons all-rounder was named among a group of expatriate Pakistanis around the world, who have stood out for their outstanding services in addressing the global coronavirus pandemic.
“The awardees were selected for their professional leadership with a strong record of innovation and outstanding performance in the fields of Community Service, Science and Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Sports and Arts and Culture,” the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Raza was born in Sialkot in the northeast of Pakistan, and immigrated to Zimbabwe in 2002 along with his family at the age of 16.
He soon became one of the best batsmen in the domestic competition and caught the eye of the Zimbabwe selectors before being called up to the national team in 2013.
Since then he rose to become one of the country’s top cricketers. A dedicated, hardworking, and disciplined sportsman, his passion for the game has managed to take him to several different leagues around the world.
Raza has sights on helping Zimbabwe qualify for the 2023 World Cup after the team missed out on qualification for the previous edition of the global tournament.