ECB and WFP link up

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the England and Wales Cricket Board today joined forces in a dynamic new partnership which will endeavour to raise awareness about the scourge of global hunger.

“Cricket Against Hunger” will use the immense pulling power of the England cricket team to draw attention to the plight of the 400 million chronically hungry children around the world.

Under the terms of the partnership, when the England team is on tour, WFP will facilitate meetings between England cricketers and young children who depend on food aid to meet their nutritional requirements at school or in the communities where they live. In this way, the stars of the England team will become advocates for the poor and the hungry.

“This is a splendid example of how sport can shine a light on a problem that takes the lives of tens of thousands of children in some of the world’s poorest countries,” said John Powell, WFP Deputy Executive Director responsible for global fundraising. “Despite all the technological and medical progress we have made in the world, hunger takes more lives each day than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.”

“Cricket Against Hunger” has already made its mark in a practical way. Last month, while the England team was competing in the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy tournament in India, four England internationals took time out from their training schedule in Jaipur to visit a group of children who receive food aid from WFP as part of a school feeding programme which is run jointly with the Indian Government.

Ashley Giles, Rikki Clarke, Ed Joyce and Jon Lewis spent almost two hours with the children, listening to the hardships they face as members of the Sahariya tribe, one of India’s poorest and most marginalised groups. The players then played a quick game of cricket with the children before touring a factory in Jaipur that produces Indiamix, a highly nutritious food blend that is distributed to vulnerable groups in India.

“This was a real eye-opener for me and the other players,” said Ashley Giles. “Sometimes it’s easy to miss the poverty and hunger of the population at large when you’re caught up in the whirlwind of a busy tour schedule. This meeting arranged by the World Food Programme was a reality check and served as a sharp reminder that one child dies every 5 seconds from hunger around the world.”

“Cricket Against Hunger” will draw on the combined strengths of both the World Food Programme and the England and Wales Cricket Board by taking advantage of upcoming England tours in South Asian countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to raise awareness about hunger and the work that can be done to eradicate it.

The “Cricket Against Hunger” partnership fits into the World Food Programme’s global strategy of striking alliances and partnerships with major sporting bodies and individual sports men and women. WFP already has a long-standing relationship with the International Rugby Board, which helped to raise more than US$ 3 Million for victims of the Asian tsunami.

A number of leading sporting figures, including Brazilian World Footballer of the Year, Ronaldinho, Kenyan world marathon record holder, Paul Tergat, and the Sri Lankan bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan, are WFP celebrity partners and advocate on behalf of the world’s hungry.

James Ingram, who was representing WFP at the Canberra launch, said: “Let there be no doubt. Sport has both the ability and the responsibility to help, as the world grapples with these fundamental humanitarian challenges. The good news is that sportsmen and women are standing up to these responsibilities and Cricket Against Hunger is going to be a big part of this.” Ingram, an Australian national, was WFP Executive Director from 1982-92.

Media Release

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