Laureus provides major impetus to move forward
Sunday, March 27th 2011 was a very special day for the Foundation of Goodness, in particular its latest venture, the North Empowerment Project. Laureus World Sports Academy Member and England cricket legend, Sir Ian Botham plus former England Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan have praised the Foundation of Goodness having visited the site of the project in the heart of a former war zone.
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is supporting the initiative to build the sports complex which forms part of the greater North Development Project in Mankulam, northern Sri Lanka. The complex will allow sport to be used to help regenerate the communities and encourage reconciliation within the Northern Provinces.
The former England players flew to the location of the site via helicopter with the Foundation of Goodness and Laureus teams as well as journalists and film crew. The site, which is still being de-mined was viewed, and the full extent of it witnesses for the first time. The group then visited a nearby cricket field where four schools had been brought together to play a six over game – even Sir Ian and Michael ended up having a quick bat to the delight of the children! The game was followed by the giving of 100 cricket bats and balls to the schools.
After the cricket the Foundation of Goodness along with the Laureus team handed out vital household supply kits to the 100 poorest families in the area. A supply kit included a double mosquito net, torch, water container, flask and two kerosene lamps. This is just one way in which the Foundation of Goodness has contributed to uplifting the lives of rural people in these northern communities over the past months. The Foundation of Goodness is determined to take proactive measures to respond to the needs of its brothers and sisters in the North. Recent programmes include 400+ essential school supplies for students, 125 bicycles for families having to walk up to 16km daily and donations to local orphanages. However, this is not enough, much more needs to be done and the efforts of the Foundation of Goodness will continue in order to see lasting positive change in the lives of these communities.
Sir Ian, who has visited the MCC Centre of Excellence in Seenigama several times, but never travelled to the North was overwhelmed by the visit. At a press conference in Colombo later that day Muthiah Muralidaran, Kumar Sangakkara, Kushil Gunasekera and MCC President Christopher Martin-Jenkins joined Sir Ian and Michael in describing just how important this project is.
“I have a great affinity with Sri Lanka and I am extremely proud to have played a part in establishing Laureus as a supporter of the Foundation of Goodness in this great country.
“Sri Lanka has had to face a number of challenges over the years including the tsunami and internal conflict and I never cease to be inspired by the strength of the human spirit to deal with the challenges that affect communities.
“I have already seen in Seenigama the great work the Foundation of Goodness has done using the power of sport to promote respect, discipline and camaraderie amongst young people. Laureus Patron Nelson Mandela says that sport has the power to change the world and nowhere is that more true than here.”
“I was shocked by what I saw in Mankulam – there is virtually nothing standing – it is flat. The people up there were dragged into a war but today playing cricket and trying to rebuild their lives. “
Muthiah Muralidaran, who was instrumental in securing from the government the 50 acre site where the North Empowerment Project will be built, said: “Laureus has been a great supporter of the Foundation of Goodness for the past few years and has given us the benefit of its global knowledge to ensure the projects we undertake help as many young people as effectively as possible.
“As a cricketer I think our duty is to help people. Cricket is the most important game in this part of the world and the supporters give a lot to us so it is important that we give something back.
“Not a lot of people know how much Sri Lanka has been affected by war. We are trying to build a new school and we have to think about new generations who need sports that can unite both the North and the South of a country once divided. Now we have a chance to help them, to give belief to these people.”
Laureus Ambassador Michael Vaughan admitted that the reaction of the children had a big impact on him.
“We saw young kids whose eyes lit up when we said we were going to play cricket with them. There has been lots of hard work done and more to do and the vision of the children being given a bat hit home to me that we complain in our own lives about such trivial things.
“The vision has to be for the next Muthiah Muralidaran or Kumar Sangakkara coming through the northern cricket academy and playing international cricket.”
Sri Lanka cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara agreed that sport was an important tool to support social development in Sri Lanka.
“When we get this project started in the North, we will see a transformation in an area that has been deprived of basic necessities that you need in life, especially for the children. It will be a premier sporting centre for Sri Lanka.”
“Sometimes Colombo seemed a world away from the war and so to establish our presence in the North will be to ensure that the children in the area will be able to establish their own communities and be equipped with all they need to be vibrant members of society in Sri Lanka. Cricket is more than a sport in Sri Lanka; it is a social panacea that brings people together.”
Kushil Gunasekera, founder and trustee of the Foundation of Goodness, who is also manager of Muthiah Muralidaran, said: “We are deeply indebted to Sir Ian Botham and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation for helping us make positive changes in Sri Lanka.”
“Sir Ian's visits to us have had a big impact on our work and enabled our partnership with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to transform the lives of those affected by the tsunami in 2004. We have been able to cultivate goodwill, understanding, unity and most importantly peace of mind for communities that need it most.”