'Save our Shuk' - Bexleyheath Cricket Club rallies behind under-threat member
PUBLISHED: 12:52 30 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:52 30 November 2016
A petition has gained more than 1,000 signatures
A cricket club has rallied behind one its beloved members who could face deportation.
Ashoquolla Sultankhil, affectionately known as Shuk by his teammates, came to England on his own from Afghanistan in 2014, having lost his mother and brother in a Taliban attack four years earlier.
At 14-years-old and with little grasp of the English language, he signed up for Bexleyheath Cricket Club, and became an integral part of the community.
Head coach at the club, Mike Barker, couldn’t praise the 16-year-old enough: “When Shuk joined us nobody had any idea the impact this young man would have on all of us.
“In a very short space of time, this diligent young man improved his English beyond belief, and we started to learn a little of the turmoil that he had been through.
“He seems to have a smile etched onto his face, which is incredible when you consider his experiences.”
But now that friendship is under threat, as Mr Barker explained: “What we know from Shuk, is that he has lost his first claim for asylum. He has one further appeal and if he loses that he will be the subject of a deportation order once he reaches 17 and a half.”
Reeling from the news, the club has set up an online petition to ‘Save our Shuk’ from deportation.
The petition has already gained more than 1,100 signatures online.
Mr Barker pleaded: “The UK has always prided itself on providing sanctuary to those with genuine asylum claims like Shuk’s.
“He has nothing to go back to in Afghanistan, his immediate family are dead, killed in tragic circumstances.
“He tells us that he loves the club and his friends. He did not expect to be welcomed in the way he was from a group of people that owed him nothing and knew little of his life.
“Here in Bexleyheath, Shuk has a chance of not just a better life, but life itself, with a family who have taken him in and made him one of their own.”