Cricket has the potential to unite communities and help countries towards their development goals, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has said. She was speaking at the ‘Bringing the Commonwealth to the ICC Cricket World Cup’ event – launching a landmark collaboration between the Commonwealth, International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup 2019, and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
High commissioners, renowned sportsmen and community project leaders were among those attending the presentation at the Commonwealth headquarters in London. The initiative aims to shift the focus beyond the playing field to the greater impacts of sport such as accelerating development, promoting peace and improving health and education.
Welcoming the new partnership, the Secretary-General said, “Sport is one of the great shared traditions across Commonwealth member countries. This collaboration will utilise our Commonwealth convening power - which is truly remarkable - to champion and promote cricket and broader sport-based initiatives being delivered by a diverse range of organisations, using the sport as a tool for development and peacebuilding.”
Secretary-General Scotland spoke about the Peace at the Crease initiative she launched earlier this year to enhance the impact of cricket as a tool for development. The programme will create a network of governments, cricketing and sporting bodies and community organisations, and includes training and capacity building to use cricket and sport more generally to advance development goals such as good health and wellbeing, peace and gender equality. Contributing to Peace at the Crease there are Commonwealth Community Cricketing Cups, with special exhibition matches and tournaments to mobilise action on specific development challenges.
The Commonwealth will also support the ICC Young Flagbearers programme, which will recruit young people from diaspora communities of each of the 10 world cup competing nations.
Commenting on the partnership with the Commonwealth, Managing Director of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Steve Elworthy MBE said: “It is an honour to work alongside the Commonwealth ahead of what is a huge year for both the sport and the participating countries. “The event provides a great opportunity for all members of the Commonwealth to be part of the World Cup and show how their communities can be part of cricket in the future,” he added.
Panel discussions at the event focused on the role cricket can play to promote social cohesion and sustainable development in local communities, as part of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Social Legacy programme.
Participants also learnt about related Commonwealth initiatives such as ‘Faith in the Commonwealth’, which was created to improve global citizenship and religious literacy among young people and build stronger social cohesion through greater respect and understanding across faiths and cultures.