'My true passion is to help develop the next generation, not just to make them better cricketers, but also better people,' says Sajid Mahmood
LONDON: In recognition of his outstanding performance in the field of sports, England’s former cricketer Sajid Mahmood has been awarded the "Freedom of the City of London" award.
The British-Pakistani played international cricket for England and county cricket for Lancashire and Essex.
The right-arm fast-medium bowler, who made his debut for Lancashire in 2002 while on a scholarship with the club, attended a ceremony at Guildhall in the Square Mile, with members of his family and friends to receive the prestigious award.
After a successful career, which included making his One Day International debut for England against New Zealand in July 2004, playing in the Ashes series 2006-07, and the World Cup in 2007, Sajid is now Head of Cricket at William Perkin School and has set up his own cricket academy.
Sajid was nominated for the award by City of London Corporation elected members, Andrien Meyers and James Henry George.
Speaking after the ceremony, Sajid Mahmood, said: “It feels very special to be given the Freedom of the City of London award for something that is very important to me."
“I have played cricket at the highest level and represented my country and now, my true passion is to help develop the next generation, not just to make them better cricketers, but also better people. In other words, to be recognised for that is truly amazing.
“I now thoroughly enjoy my work as Head of Cricket at William Perkin School and more recently, setting up the Saj Mahmood Cricket Academy, which enables me to help as many young people as possible. I would like to thank my family for their continued support because, without them, I would not be in a position in which I find myself now.”
Speaking on the occasion, Andrien Meyers said: “James and I were very pleased to nominate Sajid for his Freedom which, not only recognises his notable achievements in cricket at both national and local levels, but also at how he is now passing on his skills to young people.”
James Henry George said: “Sajid is clearly both honoured and humbled to have received the Freedom of the City of London, of which we are rightly proud.
“He will surely be delighted to know that he is following in the footsteps of other distinguished cricketers, including Sir Andrew Strauss, Michael Holding, and Sir Alastair Cook.”
Speaking to The News, Sajid Mahmood said he was honoured and humbled at receiving the award.
Sajid Mahmood urged the British Asian youth to never give up their dream of playing cricket professionally. He has also asked for parents to believe in the system, despite any negative media around racism in the game, giving examples of numerous former and current and former Asian cricketers such as Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood, Ravi Bopara, Monty Panesar and Owais Shah to name a few, who have all had very long and lucrative careers in the game.
Sajid Mahmood started playing cricket at the age of eight for Bolton Indians but played most of his youth cricket at Astley Bridge.
He himself had a lucky breakthrough into the county system. Having trialled 3 times for Lancashire and failing in all three attempts, he never stopped believing.
His opportunity came when one of the bowlers in the U17s age group got injured and Sajid was a replacement for a couple of games. He performed well with both the bat and ball in both games making it difficult for the club to leave him out of the set-up. 4 years later he made his England one-day debut.