UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar has called for increased investments in children’s education and nutrition programmes, to help them achieve their full potential.
Mr. Tendulkar was on a visit to Sri Lanka, where met with and advocated for children and their families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2022 economic crisis, which left millions in need of assistance.
As the country moves towards recovery, prices remain high for essential items and schooling, leaving families with the difficult choice of either putting food on the table or supporting their children’s learning, UNICEF said in a news release on Tuesday.
“The children I spoke with, are showing great tenacity, and their hope for a better future remains strong. We need to continue supporting them so they keep achieving their goals,” Mr. Tendulkar said.
“By investing in their education and nutrition, we are not only investing in their future but also every country’s future,” he added.
Supporting children across Sri Lanka
The UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador visited schools and plantations, where the UN agency has been supporting children and their families.
Since August 2022, UNICEF’s midday meal programme has been providing nutritious meals to some 50,000 preschool children in nearly 1,400 schools across the country. The meal programme has also helped boost pre-school attendance.
Furthermore, as part of the support for Sri Lanka’s economic recovery, UNICEF provided cash transfers to more than 110,000 families with children up to two years of age to buy nutritious foods and other important baby supplies.
‘I was a naughty kid’
Sachin Tendulkar, dubbed “the little master” by fans globally, also met with young Sri Lankans and shared his experiences growing up.
The “Cricket Catch-Ups” featured Mr. Tendulkar talking about overcoming obstacles, resilience and focusing on the pursuit of his goal.
“Cricket taught me a lot in life […] I was a naughty kid”, he said speaking to the press at the end of his trip.
He went to share how cricket helped him focus on his goal – to play for India. It helped him to start planning and, importantly, how to execute those plans; as well as teaching him life lessons on success, failure, celebrations and disappointments.
“I would encourage children in Sri Lanka to go out and play sports, it will benefit their health. Whatever they choose to be in life […] they will be a better person, if they are fitter persons.” Mr. Tendulkar added.
Regional Goodwill Ambassador
Sachin Tendulkar was appointed the first UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia in 2013. Since then, he has been playing a pivotal role in improving the lives of children in the region.
In Bhutan, Mr. Tendulkar promoted UNICEF’s Hand Washing Initiative; in India, he campaigned for sanitation and use of toilets; and in Nepal, supported the UN agency’s Bat for Brain Development programme and promoted women’s participation in cricket.