Christchurch – August 6, 2015
The leading New Zealand non-profit cricket foundation to help underprivileged children shortly plans to open its fourth cricket-education and life skills development centre in Sri Lanka.
The Cricket Live Foundation opened its first base south of Colombo at Moratuwa nearly two years ago. The foundation, founded by Christchurch’s Alex Reese, has 250 young people, eight cricket coaches, an operations manager and a director of education in its programme.
“We will introduce another 50 young people into our programme when we open a new centre in Siyambalanduwa in October. We chose this part of the country for a number of reasons based on the current social issues in the area,” Reese says.
“We are concerned at the low attendance rates in school, the large drop-out rates and the lack of parental involvement with children’s education. Life is tough there, with the main source of employment and income coming from farming, which is very seasonal.
“We think sport can be a great way to break down those social issues in the area and bring the schools, children and parents a lot closer together. We have support from the MJF Foundation, which is the charitable arm of Dilmah Tea. Merrill J. Fernando, who is the chairman and founder of Dilmah, has been a supporter, mentor and a friend from day one. They are a great family business with fantastic ethical values.”
Reese’s foundation is using cricket to help change the lives of children from slum and poor areas in and Sri Lanka and eventually, throughout South Asia. The idea of Cricket Live started when he was living in Mumbai, India. Life in the slums opened up his eyes and made him realise just how generous, loving and humble Indian people are. With support from oDilmah Tea he set his first centre up near Colombo, now he is organising a fourth centre and next year they are currently focusing on their expansion into India.
“We are lucky to have Sir Richard Hadlee as our patron. We also have had the pleasure of hosting Stephen Fleming and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy at our centre in November last year as part of a trade delegation to India and Sri Lanka.
“Once our fourth centre is established in Sri Lanka I am keen to set up in India which will always hold a very special place in my heart. I lived there as an 18 year old kid before heading to the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and fell in love with everything about the place. The idea started there, when I met Lax, a local taxi driver. I feel that I owe it to him to get into India as soon as possible.”
Reese heads to Sri Lanka early next month to help set up the foundation’s second centre in Sri Lanka.
For further information contact Make Lemonade media specialist Kip Brook on 0275 030188.
Photos: Alex Reese with a young Sri Lankan group.