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AKIL GREENIDGE IS PROOF that academics and sports can not only mix, but can complement each other. The 15-year-old received a cricket scholarship to Dulwich College in London, England, two years ago and since then he has been striving to excel both in the classroom and on the pitch. When the SUNDAY SUN caught up with the former Harrison College student last week, he was practising with the Combined Schools’ team with whom he has been playing for the summer. Given his goal of one day playing for the West Indies team and his obvious love for the sport, it is not surprising that he chose to play while on vacation. However, his desire to succeed academically also came to the fore when he mentioned that he is attending summer school at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus and “trying to get on top of [his] sciences”. Relaxing in the Harrison College pavilion after his practice session, the aspiring lawyer discussed how he came to receive the scholarship and shared details on his experience in London. Akil became the fourth Barbadian cricketer to benefit from a scholarship to the boys’ boarding school after Dulwich wrote to the Barbados Cricket Association, requesting another boy. The application process was a complicated one, including exams in English and mathematics and in the end, Akil was offered a place. “The coach saw me in the nets and saw me at a game and I guess he was happy with what he saw . . . ,” he added. Incidentally, he also takes part in the long jump, high jump and basketball at school and wanted to go to England even before his scholarship was on the horizon. “I saw this booklet when I was in first form and when I got home I told my mum I really, really want to go to England,” he recalled. Dream came true Although his dream eventually came true, Akil arrived at the school one term and three weeks into the school year. He therefore had to not only adjust to the new environment but also catch up on the schoolwork he had missed. “It was a big step, obviously, but I saw what it looked like and I thought I would be able to handle it. “Once I got there, the weather was a big issue. It’s a very different climate and the food was a bit different as well as the people, so I had quite a bit of adjusting to do,” he said, noting that after the first year he had become accustomed. Despite the challenges, he was still able to perform well academically. The teenager noted that some subjects were a bit more difficult than they were in Barbados and the syllabuses in the sciences, English and history varied somewhat but “most other things are quite similar”. The usually difficult process of relocating was made easier for him since his two elder siblings lived in England and he was able to see them often. He admitted, however, that it was difficult leaving his friends behind. Adjusting to the pitches in England was also a challenge. Big challenge “I think the first year I went . . . playing the swinging ball and playing it late was a big challenge, so my first season wasn’t very successful but then this season that just passed was a bit better. “I scored a bit more runs, I took a bit more wickets and I got a bit more used to the pitches,” said the batsman who also bowls a bit of medium pace. Although Akil found the last term to be “hectic” since he missed classes sometimes because he had “a lot of cricket to play”, he noted that the teachers at Dulwich “are very interested in your development”. “I would just miss the privilege of getting taught in class but then after school I would get back whatever I missed,” he said in reference to the tutoring sessions he received. Akil advised young people who are looking to study overseas to ensure that they are always “on top of their work”. “You always need to be working hard in school because you never know who may be looking. “If they’re looking for a sport scholarship I would say they always have to be working hard at their game as well because even though it may be off season, you shouldn’t say that you’re not going to be still practising because you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.