Cricketer faces deportation to Afghanistan after fleeing to Scotland as a teenager

A cricketer is facing deportation to Afghanistan after fleeing the war-torn country for Scotland when he was just a teenager.

The cricketer is facing deportation. Picture: SWNS

Mirwais Ahmadzai, 28, has spent almost half of his life in Scotland, arriving alone at the age of 16 having fled war and persecution at the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But he is now fighting to stay in the country he considers his home after receiving notice from the Home Office that he would be deported at the end of October.

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His distraught teammates at The Vale of Leven cricket club in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, have launched a desperate bid to save Mirwais from being deported.

Mirwais said he faces a huge risk going back to Afghanistan where he would be considered a 'target' after spending much of his life living in the West.

Mirwais said: "The immigration put me on hold for 13 years, and after that they try to send me back.

"I explained that I grew up here, I know about the law, the culture, life in Scotland.

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"I know nothing about living in Afghanistan. I was a child when I left, I grew up in a village.

"I don't know anything else about how to survive there, and I have no family left so I don't know where I could go.

"If they send me back, my language is now mixed up with English, and I've been living in the West for so long that I will be targeted. It is a huge risk.

"They have said 'You're an adult now, go back home. It's safe'.

"Afghanistan is still at war, it isn't safe to be there for anyone, never mind someone who has lived in the West for almost half his life."

Mirwais said he spent more than a month living in a jungle after leaving his village in the Logar province of the country, around 35km from the capital Kabul.

He said: "I don't like to think about the journey, it was very hard.

"We went on foot, lived in the jungle for about a month-and-a-half, and ended up in the back of a lorry.

"I was so happy when I arrived, and I stayed with a Scottish family for a long time.

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"I played cricket so I wanted to try and play here. I got put in touch with the Vale of Leven and have been playing with them since I arrived.

"In 2008, I went to the Red Cross to research my family back home but they found out they had moved, or been killed, in the village I was from.

"Our house was bombed and destroyed. My friends here, and the family I was staying with when I moved, they are like my family now.

"I had lots of problems with depression but I have been trying my best to do something.

"I went to college, to do ESL (English as a second language) courses.

"I tried to do a mechanical engineering study but I wasn't able to as I had a documents problem. I didn't have documents so I couldn't study at uni."

Hugh Hutchinson, the cricket club's president, has now written to Nicola Sturgeon, and MSPs Jackie Baillie and Martin Doherty-Hughes asking for support.

He said: "We called a meeting and decided we had to do something. We've never been involved in anything like this, something so political, but we couldn't do nothing.

"Social work contacted me 13 years ago, saying they had a couple of lads seeking asylum in Scotland and asked if we could help out as they played cricket.

"We knew he had issues trying to stay in the country, but we thought he would be fine, we never thought he was going to have to leave.

"When we found out a few weeks ago he was leaving on October 20, we couldn't let it lie."

Hugh organised an emergency meeting at the club where members decided to write to politicians about Mirwais' plight.

He added: "Cricket is a great vehicle to bring people together.

"Mirwais has been here for his whole adult life, he's become influenced from living in the West. That puts him at risk [back in Afghanistan]."

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.