As global charity partner of the tournament, UNICEF has announced its Partnership Ambassadors for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, which takes place in cities across Australia from February 21, 2020 – March 8, 2020. Rachael Haynes, former Captain and current member of the Australian Women’s Cricket Team and Alex Blackwell, former Captain of the Australian Women’s Cricket Team have joined forces with UNICEF in support of the ‘For Every Girl’ campaign which seeks to empower girls through sport and build equality in communities.
Rachael and Alex sat down with UNICEF Special Reporter and fellow cricketer Gemma, aged 11, to discuss their experiences of growing up as female cricketers and why they think more girls should get into the game. In the interview, the Australian cricketing icons answered questions, written by Gemma, including ‘Have you ever gotten the giggles in a game?’ and ‘Are you, Alex & Rachael, best friends?’. On why more girls should play cricket, Alex Blackwell shared a message of inclusion and equality, stressing the importance of supporting girls’ empowerment with UNICEF;
“Cricket doesn’t require any certain body type, I think anyone can play. If you’re tall, you’re short, you’re fast, you’re slow, it doesn’t really matter, you can find a place in a cricket team.
“UNICEF does great work improving the lives of children all around the world and especially children who are more disadvantaged perhaps than I was as a child. I really believe that young kids everywhere should have an opportunity to play sport and I’m really excited to see the programme that UNICEF are doing in Sri Lanka.”
Through its partnership with the ICC’s Cricket For Good program, UNICEF will fund sports for development projects in Sri Lanka, enabling more girls to participate in cricket. Not only will the project provide practical sports supplies and strengthen 6,000 Kids’ Clubs across Sri Lanka, it will also help to build a more peaceful future for Sri Lankan girls and boys, as they develop skills in collaboration, leadership and team building. The program’s messaging will reach 180,000 children across the country..
Rachael Haynes, who will play for Australia in the 21st February kick off match between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground, reflected on her experience as the only girl in an all boys cricket team as she was growing up, highlighting the barriers many girls face as they try to get into male-dominated sports:
“When I first started playing I played in the under 12 boys team, so I used to be the only girl in that competition. I’d be this little girl walking out in this big helmet and all the gear on and I’d quite often have boys walk up to me and ask if I was a girl, which I confirmed I was.”
The Partnership Ambassador announcement follows confirmation in December 2019 that the ICC had extended its partnership with UNICEF for the upcoming tournament as part of the Cricket For Good outreach programme. Fans attending matches or watching online will have plenty of opportunities to get involved, including during the celebratory Final on March 8, 2020; International Women’s Day, where UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Katy Perry will perform to a predicted sold out audience at the MCG and encourage supporters to visit unicef.org.au/cricket to donate.