Like many Americans, Charles ‘Chuck’ Bennett knew nothing about cricket when he joined the US embassy six years ago.
“How did you learn cricket and become an umpire and coach?”
This is a question Chuck is commonly asked by people living in Islamabad. His reply shows his overwhelming passion for community engagement that fosters people-to-people ties between the United States and Pakistan.
“When I came to Pakistan, I observed that everybody was talking about cricket. I knew nothing about cricket. So, I started watching it, especially ODIs in 20-20 format, and I found it very interesting,” he says.
Chuck, who had a 40-year career in the police in the United States before joining the US Embassy’s Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) office as the programme manager six years ago said,
“My mentor was a fellow named Tahir Muhammad – a police inspector who runs a cricket school for kids and also coaches handicapped cricketers. I worked with him. Out of my six years in Pakistan, I worked about four years on the laws and then he let me do the square leg. Now I can do it all,” Chuck recalls. He decided to join the Pakistan Cricket Association for Physically Handicapped 18 months ago.
“There are now some other foreign diplomats who are supporting this cause,” says Chuck, adding that it gave him immense pleasure when his efforts to enable young handicapped cricketers from Pakistan participate in an all-Asian handicapped cricket tournament held in India came to fruition with a grant/funding from the US embassy.
Writer Laiq Ahmed says, “I believe Chuck’s involvement in cricket and other community services is an excellent example of how non-conventional diplomacy is capable of transcending linguistic and socio-cultural differences to bring people together in a friendly way.”
Chuck has not only been encouraging handicapped cricketers but also performing other important community services.
Full story by Laiq Ahmed here in the Express Tribune: