Cricketing legends Kapil Dev from India and Steve Waugh from Australia, two of the biggest all-rounders the game has ever seen, joined hands to play for the children of the tsunami-affected village of Seenigama, near Galle in Sri Lanka. The players launched a new project, aimed at helping the victims.
The project in Sri Lanka is the 39th project of its kind launched under the aegis of the Laureus World Sports Academy backed by DaimlerChrysler and Richemont Group, both keen supporters of such causes through Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Kapil Dev and Steve Waugh recently visited the tsunami-affected village of Seenigama engaging young boys and girls, aged six and above, in various inter-village sports leagues with friendly matches and training sessions. The project aims to involve an estimated 800 participants in such activities and seeks to use sport as a means to support the region in its healing process and restore community spirit.
During the visit, Kapil Dev and Steve Waugh, both members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, took part in a cricket match with the children, much to the excitement of these youngsters. A large crowd if villagers who are now recovering from trauma, watched them as the children enjoyed their game with these accomplished cricketers.
Indian cricket legend Kapil Dev is an enthusiastic supporter of the underprivileged young in his own country said: “The tsunami left a trail of destruction in the whole of South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Now almost a year later when major relief agencies are winding down their work, organisations such as Laureus will have to step in to do what they can to help in rebuilding. Sport is a wonderful means to achieve this as it is the key to creating team spirit and unity of purpose."
For Australia’s most successful cricket captain Steve Waugh, it was a very emotional moment. He was named the newest Laureus World Sports Academy member in Sydney on December 2, and within days he was in Sri Lanka for the launch of a Laureus project.
“I was delighted to be invited to become a Laureus Academy member and doubly delighted to get down to work for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Achievements on the sporting field are great, but it’s only a game. Real achievement is in helping people in situations like this. I know this is what all my fellow Laureus Academy members believe,” Waugh remarked.
“Despite the dreadful images on television immediately after the disaster, I don’t think people in the western world could fathom how traumatic the events of December 26 could have been for those in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. It makes us more determined to do what we can to help these youngsters. Many have lost family members and friends and this will always be in their memory. But we can try to restore some degree of normality to their lives,” added Waugh.
Sport is an ideal medium to tackle a wide range of social issues and generate a positive impact. The benefits sports could bring to the region are immense.
Sports can help in building leadership and teamwork skills, introducing stability and a sense of enjoyment, increasing confidence and participation of girls in community planning, increasing collaboration and information sharing amongst the villagers involved and facilitate the post-tsunami healing process to continue.
One of the key objectives of the scheme is to increase participation and interaction amongst the people of Seenigama and its surrounding villages.
The Laureus project will gradually expand to cover more organised sports including volleyball, cricket, badminton, swimming, football, cross-country race and table tennis. This will also be linked to the other critical elements of rebuilding – medical care, family support and educational activities.
DaimlerChrysler and Richemont, the Founding Patrons of the Academy, underwrite and stage the Laureus World Sports Awards and provide core funding for Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.