MUMBAI: “Children must have the right to play. It is the best medium to help them channel their energy and teach them some of life’s most valuable lessons-on strength and determination, humility and mutual respect, on resilience and sportsmanship,” Sachin Tendulkar has mentioned in a special article the cricket legend has penned for UNICEF India. Tendulkar is also the regional goodwill ambassador for South Asia.

Given below is the article, which was tweeted by UNICEF India on Saturday.

“The late, great cricket coach, Achrekar Sir once told me: No one is bigger than the game. It was one of the most profound pieces of advice that I ever received and it stayed with me throughout my years in the sport. The game does not discriminate; it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you have come from. It doesn’t matter if you are a girl or a boy. As long as there is passion in your heart, the game is all yours.

That is the amazing thing about sport. It brings you hope and joy even in the most challenging circumstances. You can leave behind all your doubts, fears, and prejudices that may have caged you, and give in to your most natural instinct: to play.

Children must have the right to play. It is the best medium to help them channel their energy and teach them some of life’s most valuable lessons-on strength and determination, humility and mutual respect, on resilience and sportsmanship.

To be able to play with an open mind encourages children to push their limits, and in the process, discover their own potential. Throughout my career, I have always played with my heart. It was always about the process and not the result. I played because cricket gave me, and will always give me joy.

My father would always tell me: Be a good person first; everything else can come later. Sport is the best teacher to build character. When you are on a sports field, be it cricket or badminton, football or hockey, you let go of everything else and become a sportsperson, and only that.

You stand on the same platform as everyone else and learn to win with dignity and accept defeat with humility. Sport does not see your gender, just your hard work.

It is for this very reason that I believe sport is a great medium to empower girls. In November 2019, when I visited Nepal as a UNICEF ambassador and engaged with the women’s team in a game of cricket, the confidence they exuded left me impressed. The enthusiasm of the cricketers participating in the Women’s Cricket League in October 2020 in Jammu and Kashmir was inspirational.

At home, or in society at large, girls may face various kinds of discrimination, but on the sports field they have an opportunity to showcase their talent. This helps them grow as individuals. The Indian Women’s Hockey team played brilliantly in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and produced many such examples. The captain, Rani Rampal‘s father could not afford to buy her a hockey stick when she was growing up, so she would play with a broken one; Salima Tete from Jharkhand would play with wooden sticks for the same reason. Deep Grace Ekka’s family was criticized because she was ‘allowed’ to play the game despite being a girl.

It is the same purpose that drives teenage footballer, Pria Dutta of Bangladesh to play for the national football team. Pria’s father is a carpenter who has to work hard to sustain his family of four. All of her difficulties, including the bias of society, fade once Pria, the team’s top striker, dribbles the football. She knows that on the field, she is invincible and that motivates her to work harder.

The big message is this: Let every child, girl and boy, play a sport. It will help their physical and mental growth. As the UNICEF Cricket for Good ambassador at the 2017 Women’s World Cup, my aim was to motivate girls to pick up the sport and participate in world-class championships. Sport, like music, transcends boundaries and helps in moulding our children into well-rounded individuals who will be an asset to our society. Let’s give them that opportunity.”

NEW DELHI: India’s series opener against West Indies at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera on Sunday will be the hosts 1000th one-day international overall. India in fact will become the first cricket playing nation to play 1000 ODIs.

And on this occasion, Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who played a stupendous 463 ODIs for India, congratulated the country’s cricket fraternity.

Tendulkar, who had been part of India’s 200th, 300th, 400th, 500th, 600th, 700th, and 800th ODIs, said, “India playing their 1000th ODI is a huge milestone. The first ODI was played in 1974 and now in 2022 we are playing the 1000th ODI.”

When the Indian men’s team faced England in their first-ever ODI at Headingley, Leeds on July 13, 1974, no one really would have expected India to become the first nation to reach the milestone of playing 1000 ODIs.

It (the 1000th ODI) was only possible because of the past cricketers, the current cricketers, the past board members, the current board members and not to forget the most important people – our Indian cricket team’s well-wishers – from the past generations and even the ones who are today with us and the ones who are going to continue being with us, I would want to say that it is an achievement for all of us,” Tendulkar added.

From Tendulkar’s debut till his retirement, India played 638 matches. Incredibly it was India’s 166th match when Tendulkar made his debut against Pakistan in 1989 and the Little Master announced his ODI retirement after the 804th ODI India played in 2012 – also against Pakistan.

Continuing his effusive praise, Tendulkar said, “The entire nation should be proud of this and hope Indian cricket continues to go from strength to strength. I know we’ll be playing on the 6th of February against the West Indies in Ahmedabad, I want to wish them all the very best for the coming series and especially for the 1000th ODI. Good luck.”

Since the inception of ODIs in 1974, out of all the ODIs played by Team India, Tendulkar has been part of a whopping 57.58%, whereas in terms of the ODIs played during his career, he featured in 72.57% of the matches, which reflects his unparalleled contribution during this tremendous journey of the Indian cricket team.

When asked to pick one top ODI knock from his glittering career, Tendulkar said, “I would say the first 200 in ODI that was scored, which I got against South Africa, that would be one of the landmarks, because the bowling attack was also good and it was a very good opposition, it happened in ODI history (men’s cricket) for the first time, so it has its own relevance. So I would say that my double hundred against South Africa would be one of the important knocks in ODI cricket for me.”