Fr Valentine Erhahon believes a cricket team from HMP/YOI Isis Prison will beat the famous Vatican side when they meet during the clerics’ highly anticipated tour of England next month.
His confident words came following a practice match at HMP/YOI Isis which included prisoners, officers and staff, held in order to select a side to face the Vatican Cricket Team – known as St Peter’s – when they visit the prison on 8th July.
“I think HMP/YOI may win,” Fr Erhahon, project creator and logistics manager for HMP YOI Isis cricket events in London, told The Universe.
“I have seen the Vatican team play before and I can attest to how good they are. But I still believe our team drawn from prisoners and staff will spring a surprise.”
He stressed that the result of the match was less important than the significance of wardens playing alongside inmates, however. “Our officers have brought their talents, kindness and grace to this match, which seeks to acknowledge and celebrate how prison officers are intricately at the heart of rehabilitation of the prisoners.”
Fr Erhahon said the Vatican Cricket Team was delighted to have the chance to visit the prison as part of their 2018 England Tour.
Fr Erhahon said the game was a “thank you” to every prison officer who has and continues to make change possible.
“Knowing that the more we do things like this, we enable a rehabilitative culture that prevents re-offending to become the norm,” he said. “The beauty of the events of this cricket match is that they bring people together. It calls on prison volunteers and staff to freely give their time to support something positive.”
Fr Erhahon said officers involved would be doing so during their free time – not their working hours.
Prisoners who are chapel orderlies have been entrusted with planning, organising and delivering events. In addition, the prisoners who are orderlies in the gym, Quays Restaurant, workshop/skills zone, segregation unit and safer custody are all helping out in their various departments to make the events a huge success.
“From the Catholic Mass in the morning, to the social event in the afternoon and to the cricket match itself, we thank everyone for working hard on this historic event,” Fr Erhahon added.
The tour will also see the Vatican team play matches at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire; Lord’s (Nursery Ground) in an ecumenical XI; at Indian Gymkhana Ground, Osterley, against a Commonwealth XI; and at Mount Cricket Club, when they will take on an East London Faith Team. There are also matches planned against the Royal Household XI at Windsor Castle and a Houses of Parliament XI.
Picture: A batsman’s bat and pads lie next to the wickets. (Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport).