Mumbai: The One Day for Children initiative, a collaborative effort between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and UNICEF, took centerstage at the Wankhede Stadium during the India-Sri Lanka cricket match on Thursday.
In a symbolic gesture of support for children’s rights worldwide, the stadium was lit up in UNICEF’s signature cyan blue.
The transformation occurred during the World Cup clash as South Asia Regional Ambassador and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan pressed a button during the second innings. Tendulkar, leading a day dedicated to children and promoting gender equality, emphasised the significance of the World Cup as a platform to unite people.
The significance of the One Day match for children
“The World Cup is an opportune moment to bring people together and promote hope and equality for every child, and I am delighted that today’s match between Sri Lanka and India is the One Day for Children match,” he said.
During the match, spectators received LED wristbands at entry points, which illuminated in sync with the stadium’s blue hue. The wristbands featured a QR code, linking to a pledge for children. The spectators were encouraged to scan the code and take the pledge, reinforcing the commitment to treat boys and girls equally.
Players, too, sported unique armbands with logos of the World Cup, One Day 4 Child, and UNICEF, alongside their names, contributing to the visual representation of the cause.
Cynthia McCaffrey, representative of UNICEF India, highlighted the rare opportunity the World Cup match presented to leverage the power of cricket in advocating for better, safer, and empowering lives for millions of girls and boys. The partnership between Unicef and ICC, initiated in 2015, has continually harnessed the potential of cricketing events to improve the lives of children and young people. Since 2022, the focus has shifted to empowering girls and young women through cricket.
Master Blaster speaks
Tendulkar expressed his belief in the transformative power of sports, emphasising that the participation of girls in sports can challenge gender norms and change attitudes in schools, playgrounds and homes.
“Girls and boys everywhere dream of a better future, and when girls do better, we all do better,” he said.
With South Asia home to one-third of the world’s 600 million adolescent girls, the initiative aims to tap into their potential to bring about positive change on a global scale.