Sport is his therapy against the inner abysses

Separated from his family since the raid in Turkey: Idris Ayubi. Photo: Reto Schlatter
Separated from his family since the raid in Turkey: Idris Ayubi. Photo: Reto Schlatter

Sport - Cricket was already the passion of Idris Ayubi in Afghanistan. In foreign countries, the game has become a lifeline for young people.

15. September 2020
by Christa Amstutz Gafner, Delf Bucher

The August sun burns down relentlessly on the oval cricket field at the Deutweg sports complex. Idris Ayubi crouches on the edge in the shade of the maple tree. A month ago, he adorned the red and white Winterthur Cricket Club kit with the number 31 for the first time. Cricket is familiar to the Pashtun. "We played it on the street in our village," he says. Even if only on a dusty street in Afghanistan, no strict cricket umpire watching over the rules, as is now the case at the championship game in Winterthur, and the complicated rules hardly play a role in alley cricket: Nevertheless, Idris knows the tricky rules. "Cricket was a professional sport for us", he says in perfect German. The games were broadcast on television for hours.

The trauma of fleeing
The 17-year-old has been in Switzerland for eleven months. He has learned German surprisingly quickly. Because he wants to stay in Switzerland. And he knows that even if he only gets Fr. 40 a week in pocket money, he must not try to supplement that by making crooked deals. "If I don't screw up now, I'll have permanent residency status in five years." Active in sports, good language skills: that looks like a successful arrival in a foreign country. But the longer Idris talks, the more biographical abysses open up in the conversation. A year ago, he was separated from his family during a night-time police raid in Turkey. "I haven't heard from them since," he says, and his eyes glisten moistly under his bushy eyebrows. You can feel how much this separation still hurts him today. It is fortunate that his mental distress was recognised during the odyssey by the Swiss asylum institutions. Today he lives in the Samosa model station in Winterthur, which specialises in young people with post-traumatic stress disorders. Idris now pulls out his mobile phone and clicks on a photo. It shows him sitting in front of an Afghan winter landscape, wrapped in a thick jacket. The picture was taken the day before the family fled. The reason: the murder of his grandmother and an uncle by the Taliban. In another picture, Idris is lifting the trophy after a volleyball tournament in his home country. "I love sport", he explains. Last winter, he went skiing one weekend in the Grisons. "After two days it went quite well," he says proudly. Sport excites him. But for him, sport is therapy, so to speak, so as not to continue to indulge in the dark episodes of his still young life. On the cricket pitch, the young Afghan forgets the pictures of his lost homeland, of the civil war and above all of his painfully missing family for a few hours. Sport also offers him a social network with which he can make new contacts outside his care institution. Cricket is the chance for Idris to become at home in Switzerland.


This article was first published by reformiert.