Hugh Snelgrove, Project Manager of the Australia Tour & the Sydney Fundraiser:
“It reminded me of a cross between the Jamaican bobsled team and [the film] Boyz n the Hood. They’re doing a positive thing in the community and using an innovative way to do it.” Hugh Snelgrove Project manager Australia Tour, Sydney Morning Herald, June 07
At the end of 2006 I came across a social venture on the internet that seemed too bizarre to be true- the Compton Cricket Club. Inspired and humbled by their noble cause what started out as a quick email wishing them the best in their future endeavours soon turned into a massive project when I took on the task to get them to Australia.
My interest in the team of inner city ex gang members and homeless men from the Dome Village, Homeless Community in downtown Los Angeles quickly grew into an obsession.
With no/little event management, public relations or fundraising expertise nor experience I threw caution (and my chances of attaining an Architecture degree) to the wind in order to get these boys downunder.
Ive often felt as though im pushing a rock up the hill in regards to making this tour happen- juggling part time jobs as well as trying to retain some normalcy to my social & family life. Trying to keep it real while not letting the project become all consuming – fat chance.
The defining moment in my involvement with the club which made me kick it up a notch for their Australian tour came in February 2009 when I flew to Los Angeles to witness the team’s photo shoot with NIKE subsidiary UMBRO.
They had decided to use the Compton Cricket Club as part of a global campaign to promote the new National English soccer jersey which they had just finished designing.
This was my first time in LA, not to mention South Central Los Angeles as well as the first time I could put a face to a name they had now seen at the end of hundreds of emails. After nearly 2 years of working for the team pro bono gathering support for their Australian tour, I was now in the city of Angels, and my time there was very ‘Hollywood’ not least of which included crashing on the couch in West Hollywood of one of the co founders of the club Ms Katy Haber – who also happened to have worked as a producer on the world renowned feature film ‘Blade Runner’.
Big RV’s of equipment, gigantic security guards, thousands of dollars worth of equipment & a private chef cooking for all pretty much summed up a very positive and constructive day for everyone on the set of the LA shoot. By the end we were all on a natural high.
However the bright lights of Hollywood soon dimmed. The stark reality of team members still living in one of the most dangerous 10 square miles in America soon became painfully clear.
Team member Jesse Cazarez, 20, was not present at the UMBRO photo shoot with his older brother Emidio, because he wanted to watch the Superbowl. After the game, while standing in the street talking to his neighbours about the outcome,he was killed in a random drive by shooting.
Sadly the story of the club had now come tragically full circle. We weren’t here for the bright lights but to save lives.
I was so affected by this sequence that upon returning to Sydney I went straight to the tattoo parlour and had ‘Cricket outta Compton’ emblazoned onto my left shoulder. The tattoo is to commemorate this tragic event as well as show my strong commitment to the mission of the club. Straight off the back of another event that should have been so positive for their own community it reminded me why the team was created in the first place; and why we still have so far to go…