Sachin Tendulkar bats for child nutrition, quality education for children in Sri Lanka
Tuesday 8 August 2023
COLOMBO: Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar pitched for a nutrient-rich diet and quality education for children during his school visits in Sri Lanka where he also teamed up with people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s worst economic crisis.
Addressing an event, the iconic cricketer, in his role as UNICEF‘s Goodwill Ambassador, said, “Children are the future; if we support them today, they will make us proud tomorrow.”
Tendulkar said he was sorry to know that many households in Sri Lanka can’t afford to give quality and the quantity of food required by children.
“Many children suffer from stunting,” he said at an event hosted by UNICEF.
Tendulkar, 50, was appointed UNICEF Ambassador for South Asia in 2013 to advocate good hygiene and sanitation across the region.
“When I played school matches, the tendency was if I was batting at lunchtime not to have anything to eat. I would have a couple of soft drinks and a bat,” he said.
Tendulkar said he had to prepare differently when the playing standards got better. “This preparation was something I unknowingly ignored,” he said.
The cricketer later learned that not having a proper lunch impacted his view. “I got out after lunch at an important match, and the first thing I wanted to do was to eat,” he said, calling it a big lesson in nutrition.
“Children require a nutrient-rich diet and quality education to reach their full potential. By investing in their education and nutrition, we are not only investing in their future but also every country’s future,” said Tendulkar.
Pointing out that measures have been taken in India to tackle child malnutrition, Tendulkar said, “Something unique has started in India, which is local therapeutic foods, ready-to-eat packages.”
Through his role as a UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador, Tendulkar has been committed to promoting child rights, protection, and development across the South Asian region.
“Children are the best teachers. They help us see (the) wisdom in the simplest of things. In this school situated in a serene Sri Lankan village, we observed compassion towards all beings,” Tendulkar posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“All children take a few portions of food from their plates and keep it on a common plate – which is then served to birds. Such a beautiful thought on sharing, being grateful for our blessings and compassion. Something all of us can emulate,” he said.
On Monday, he visited the UNICEF programmes in the rural Sabaragamuwa province and met with children and parents impacted by the COVID-pandemic and the 2022 economic crisis.
Tendulkar also visited a preschool supported by UNICEF’s midday school meal programme and served children food.
“Every child should have the right to education. It is the foundation for every child,” Tendulkar stressed.
“When you spend time with children, you learn a lot of things”, Tendulkar said, recalling his days as a student and a cricketer. He also urged Sri Lankan children to play sports.
Tendulkar recalled warm memories associated with Sri Lanka during his earlier visits, both as a cricketer and as part of his engagements with UNICEF in 2015, a UNICEF press release said.
His last trip was in 2015 and was made to promote hand washing as a hygienic practice.
Tendulkar said he had been touring Sri Lanka since 1993 and had made many friends here, including Muttiah Muralitharan, the legendary Sri Lanka spinner.
Tendulkar, considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time in cricket, has been associated with UNICEF for over a decade for various causes.
In 2003, he was chosen to take the lead in the initiative to create awareness and promote polio prevention in India, according to UNICEF.
Later in 2008, he was roped in to create and promote hygiene and sanitation among communities and continues to do so over the years.
In 2019, he went on a three-day trip to Nepal to raise awareness for UNICEF Nepal’s ‘Bat for Brain Development’ campaign.
In his almost two-decade-long partnership with UNICEF, Tendulkar has been vital in furthering the campaigns, especially the ones aimed at providing a better future for underprivileged children.
“Together nations can do wonders, and that is the aim of my trip here. A brilliant learning experience for me, thank you so very much, UNICEF,” he said.