UNICEF and ICC partner with 10 cricket teams during the World Cup to inspire girls and boys to avail equal opportunities in play and life

Cricketers from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands played cricket with children at stadiums across India to promote girls’ rights

03 November 2023
Cricket for good
2023 ICC

NEW DELHI, 3 November 2023: The English cricket team played cricket with 50 children today in Ahmedabad to promote equal rights and opportunities for girls and boys.

The clinic with England marked the conclusion of a series of 10 cricket clinics organised with teams participating in the 2023 World Cup in India, as part of a global partnership between UNICEF and ICC.

Cricket teams from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands played cricket with 50 young boys and girls each at stadiums in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Dharamsala, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai , New Delhi, and Pune from 10 October to 3 November 2023. During these clinics, each team guided the children, especially girls, through a game of cricket.

“Cricket can move millions of people and play a vital role in inspiring girls and boys. So, we thought it only fitting to use the influence it wields, especially during the Cricket World Cup, to advocate for equal rights for both girls and boys,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF South Asia Regional Director. “Life isn’t always easy for girls in South Asia. The region is home to one-third of the world’s adolescent girls, yet they lag behind in too many aspects of life. For a girl, the clinic creates a lasting memory that can inspire them to persevere against all odds.”

In South Asia, 1 in every 5 girls is undernourished. More than half of adolescent girls are anaemic. Only 36 per cent of girls have completed secondary school. In addition, South Asia accounts for nearly half of the world’s child brides.

The clinics were designed to help young girls and boys learn valuable skills that can help them become more confident, work together and be leaders in the future. Priyanka and Shabnam were two girls who attended the cricket clinic with the Afghanistan cricket team at the Arun Jaitley Cricket Stadium on 13 October in New Delhi.

“We got a chance to play with the entire team. Everyone was easy to get along with. We assumed they would be strict. It felt great overall,” said Priyanka.

“It was a great experience being here today and meeting the team. They gave us tips on having the right position and techniques for playing. I really enjoyed it,” said Shabnam.

“It was wonderful to come here and meet Rashid Khan. I had previously seen him only on television, but I now got a chance to meet him and the team in person for the first time,” said Vikas.

“Be a champion, play cricket. Doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl,” said Naveen-ul-Haq, the Afghan bowler who had some inspiring words for the children.

On 18 October, the Pakistan cricket team led by star wicket keeper and batsman Mohammad Rizwan, accompanied by team members Iftikhar Ahmad, Hassan Ali, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf and Agha Salman played cricket with 50 children of India’s Karnataka state at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

On 19 October, the children had a thrilling day when they met star cricketers from the Australian national cricket team who were in Bengaluru for a World Cup match. The team was led by the Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins and his teammates David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis, Josh Hazelwood, Mitchell Starc and the team’s support staff.  The children met, played, joked, laughed, and learned cricket as well as life lessons such as team building and leadership. They asked questions, got answers, and received autographs on their t-shirts and caps from the cricketers, and even had a pep talk from UNICEF Australia Ambassador, Pat Cummins, on what it takes to survive the challenges in life and succeed.

Pat Cummins also visited a primary school in Lucknow, India, to see how UNICEF’s learning-by-doing programme is making a real difference to students in the community. The programme encourages children to stay in school by teaching them practical skills, like building solar cookers or turning plastic rubbish into toys.

On 27 October, players from Bangladesh, led by their captain Shakib-Al Hasan, shared tips with the children on how to bowl, bat and field.

“It felt good to have played with boys. I felt at par with the boys to play with the international cricketers,” said Sneha Mondal after the brief practice session.

Shuvam Rajwar, a speech and hearing-impaired boy, said with the help of an interpreter, that this practice was useful to learn how to play in a team during a match. “I learnt to negotiate and take decisions with my team members,” he said.

On 28 October, 50 children from various schools in Pune played cricket with the Sri Lankan cricket team at MCA stadium in Gahunje, Pune. Excited after the event, Swaranjali Dhavade said it was a memorable event. " I enjoyed today's event very much. It was the first time I got to meet and play with the Sri Lankan players. I have only seen them on television so far. They encouraged us to play and exercise on a daily basis,” she said.

On 31 October 2023, the Indian cricket team met around 50 children from Bharat Scouts and Guide from Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium.

Media contacts

Sabrina Sidhu
Communication Specialist (Media)
UNICEF South Asia
Tel: +91 9384030106

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) works with UNICEF Country Offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to help to save children’s lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfil their potential. For more information about UNICEF’s work for children in South Asia, visit www.unicef.org/rosa and follow UNICEF ROSA on Twitter and Facebook