Cricket Players
Cricket is one of the world’s most popular sports, with billions across the globe idolizing its stars. As well as their dazzling on-field performances, the charitable contributions of some of the game’s biggest figures have been notable. Here are three examples of cricket players ending poverty.

Sachin Tendulkar

Known as “The God of Cricket,” Tendulkar became arguably the game’s greatest-ever figure due, in part, to his record-breaking international career from 1989 to 2013. However, it is not only Sachin’s cricketing skills that engender awe and admiration. He has been involved in a wide range of charitable causes, especially focusing on supporting those in his native India. The nation has made immense progress in reducing poverty, with 415 million Indians leaving poverty from 2005 to 2020. Nonetheless, in 2019, 137 million Indians were still living in poverty, accounting for a headcount higher than any other country in the world.

In 2013, Tendulkar became UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia and has since worked passionately with the organization to improve the health and well-being of children on the subcontinent. In 2016, he led UNICEF’s Swachh Bharat campaign to improve sanitation in India. Sachin championed its objectives to end open defecation and to ensure every Indian had access to a toilet. Also, in 2018, he visited Bhutan to support UNICEF’s hand-washing initiative, meeting with school children and the interim Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Wangchuk.

As well as his work with UNICEF, Tendulkar has also made many personal donations to charitable causes. He donated generously to India’s fight against COVID-19. In total, he contributed 15 million rupees, approximately $185,000. Mission Oxygen, a social enterprise established at the peak of India’s second wave of COVID-19 in April 2021, received a total of 10 million rupees from this donation. The social enterprise provided 5,224 medical-grade oxygen contributors to more than 370 medical institutions in India, helped set up 37 oxygen generation plants and donated 55,000 oximeters that facilitated the monitoring of the COVID-19 status of 6 million people.

His personal foundation, The Sachin Tendulkar Foundation, funds organizations that improve the access Indian children have to education, health care and sport. One such organization is Apnalaya, a nonprofit that provides basic services to the urban poor of Sachin’s hometown of Mumbai, which has a large slum population. Via Apnalaya, The Sachin Tendulkar Foundation sponsors the education of 200 less-privileged children in Mumbai every year, helping them to break free from the limitations of deprivation and poverty.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli, India’s cricketing icon of the modern era, holds immense influence in the fight against poverty. With more than 245 million followers on Instagram, he stands as a leading figure among cricket players dedicated to this cause. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Tendulkar, Kohli exhibits a steadfast commitment to uplifting fellow Indians living in the most challenging circumstances.

In 2013, Kohli established the Virat Kohli Foundation (VKF), an organization dedicated to assisting those enduring extreme poverty. Through a partnership with the Raah Foundation, VKF focuses on delivering health care services to malnourished tribal children across India. Notably, tribal communities constitute the country’s most deprived group, with an estimated 5 million tribal children suffering from chronic undernourishment, as UNICEF highlighted.

In 2020, VKF launched Project Nutrition for Transformation, an initiative aimed at combating malnutrition among tribal children. This project successfully provided a year-long nutritional food supply to 5,000 malnourished tribal children across 103 health centers in the Maharashtra region. As a result, there was an increase in the number of tribal children attending regional health centers, empowering them to improve their overall well-being and livelihood prospects.

In a philanthropic endeavor, Kohli organized a charity dinner in 2016 to raise funds for The Smile Foundation. Since its establishment in 2002, the Smile Foundation has been actively working to uplift underprivileged children in India by implementing educational, health care and female empowerment programs. Notably, their livelihood programs equip young underprivileged Indians with vital employment skills, providing them with opportunities to uplift themselves and their families from poverty. These programs also prioritize female empowerment, as 71% of the 75,000 children trained are girls. Furthermore, Kohli made personal donations to support suffering Indians.

In 2020, he and his wife Anushka Sharm together donated an undisclosed amount to the PM Cares Fund and the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to assist the victims of COVID-19.

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes, England’s current captain, has also contributed to a range of charitable causes, both at home and around the world. During England’s most recent tour of Pakistan in 2022, he pledged his entire wage package of £45,000. This was to help the people suffering from the impacts of the country’s devastating floods. According to reports, more than 20.6 million people in Pakistan still require humanitarian assistance. In his announcement, Stokes said that “The game has given me a lot in my life and I feel it’s only right to give something back that goes far beyond cricket.”

Stokes is a supporter of the British Asian Trust, a charity that aims to eliminate poverty, injustice and inequality in South Asia. King Charles III and a group of British Asian business leaders formed the trust in 2007. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the trust launched an emergency appeal and provided life-saving aid to more than 135,000 Indians, including essential items such as vegetables, flour, pulses and essential oils.

Stokes has contributed to the Trust’s efforts to eradicate child labor in Jaipur, India, where the organization collaborates with local authorities to enhance educational opportunities. In Britain, he has been involved in supporting the victims of COVID-19. In 2020, Stokes was part of the England Cricket Team that together donated £500,000 of their wages to the fight against COVID-19. Later in the year, he ran a half-marathon to fundraise for the National Health Service (NHS) and the charity Chance to Shine, which provides underprivileged communities in the U.K. access to cricket.

What is Next?

These three cricket players ending poverty are some of the greatest the game has ever seen. Yet, even more impressive than their sporting prowess are the examples they are setting for other privileged people by participating in humanitarian work. Such actions by these cricket players and others could encourage more participation in the fight against poverty, and in effect, create a poverty-free world.

– Henry Jones
Photo: Flickr