Bowl it like Benjamin
Interview by Varun Vinod
“It can get tricky especially when I am on an international tour while exams are around the corner, but with a little perseverance it is entirely possible to excel in both.”– Aaron William Benjamin
Quick facts about Aaron:
The youngest ‘Myprotein’ sponsored athlete in the country, and a brand ambassador for a local cricket brand ‘RSM Gears’
Represented UAE at the U-19 Asia Cup
Part of Middlesex University’s Rugby Team
Young, energetic and currently thriving, Aaron William Benjamin is not only a student at Middlesex University Dubai, but is also a rising sports star in the UAE. Hailing originally from Sri Lanka, his family moved to Botswana, a country in Southern Africa when he was just a toddler. In Botswana, Benjamin started his journey in cricket at the humble age of 6. He explains that it is when he saw Sri Lankan cricketer Lasith Malinga in full swing, that he knew that cricket was the sport for him.
“Watching legends like Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas represent Sri Lanka, made me believe that I could also play cricket at an international level if I worked hard enough”.
At the age of 13, the young cricketer earned his position at the Botswana National U-15 team in a series against Namibia. After moving to UAE in 2015, Benjamin continued at a junior club level but soon found his big break.
“In my second season, I had broken the record for the most wickets taken by a fast bowler, and as a result, I had earned a place in the U-19 UAE National selection camp. After three months of intense testing and training, an extended squad of 60 players were cut to the final team of 14 players. Finally, the announcement had been made, and I was blessed enough to make the UAE U-19 national team.”
His national campaign was launched in September of 2018, and since then, he has gone to participate in four international tournaments. Benjamin has received awards for his work from several distinguished cricket legends including Ravindran Ashwin, Jonty Rhodes and Kumar Sangakara.
When asked about his obstacles, Benjamin states that in 2018 he faced an issue which he thought would seriously interrupt his career. He says, “There was a national rule that required me to have four years of residency in UAE, but at the time I had only completed three years. I was disheartened thinking an opportunity I had worked hard for was going to be out of arms reach because of something out of my control. But by God’s grace alone, the rule was overturned, and I was eligible to represent the country at the age of 17.”
Being a student and playing professionally can seem challenging, but Benjamin says that he can manage quite well since he has become used to dividing time between both over the years. “It can get tricky, especially when I am on an international tour while exams are around the corner, but with a little perseverance, it is entirely possible to excel in both.”
In addition to being a full-time student and committed cricketer, the youngster also contributes his effort to Middlesex University’s Rugby and Cricket teams.
With COVID-19 affecting our daily lives, Benjamin says he misses training on the field but is taking this time to plan game strategies and tactics which he is confident will give him an edge over the others.
“Talking to other university athletes like Farhan (a long-distance runner) and Mihir (our Rugby captain) has been keeping me on track physically. Sharing our workout plans allows us to view different aspects of other sports, which is something I never knew I would be interested in otherwise.”