Sachin Tendulkar, has today thrown his support behind the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. To celebrate the launch of the tournament schedule on International Women’s Day, Tendulkar was introduced as the UNICEF and Cricket For Good Ambassador for the ICC Women's World Cup 2017. He said agreeing to get involved was an easy decision:
“International Women’s Day is something special and the World Cup is a massive occasion; the biggest event in cricket and I believe that women are for sport and sport is for women. The two should go hand in hand and that’s the reason I’m extending my support. The competitiveness and fierce competitions we will see is something we can all enjoy at the Women’s World Cup and something everyone can appreciate," he said.
Tendulkar reflected on the increasing strength across the competing nations, but admitted he couldn’t look past India in the upcoming competition, which the team qualified for by winning the Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Colombo last month.
“This World Cup is going to be competitive. I have witnessed a few games and I know for sure that Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand, they all are competitive teams, but my heart is with India,” he said. “India has got a solid competitive team and a couple of players I have followed and interacted with – (Jhulan) Goswami and Mithali Raj. So, all in all, I think this is going to be a great tournament. Let’s wait and enjoy cricket and I know for sure that people will not be disappointed at all.”
Tendulkar felt it was unfair to compare men’s cricket with women’s cricket, and stressed the need to enjoy each format independently.
“First of all, there should not be any comparison. I have always believed that you should judge individuals by what they are capable of. Men’s or women’s sports, we should all have the freedom to get into the playground and express ourselves, without being constantly judged or compared,” he pointed out. “People have this tendency to compare sportspersons from one era to another era, men against women. We don’t need to do all that. Enjoy what is happening there because those are special moments that sportsperson has worked really hard to get to that level.
“There have been many cases where sportsmen have come from very challenging circumstances. Not sure they could be judged or compared,” he opined. “It’s just for their satisfaction, their passion for sport and they are chasing their dreams. We should sit back and applaud every little thing that they do.”
With the 11th edition of the Women’s World Cup scheduled to be played out across five venues in England from June 24 to July 26, Tendulkar hoped more and more fans would turn up to watch and support the event. He said he was puzzled by people who weren’t interested in the women’s game.
“I guess he is not a cricket fan,” Tendulkar said, when asked what would he say to a cricket fan who wouldn’t consider going to a women’s game. “If you are a true cricket fan, you need to get there in the middle and watch that action. They are skillful players, they are competitive, they fight hard and in the right spirit. Then why wouldn’t you want to be there? I think you need a closer look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself some strong question that are you a cricket fan or cricket lover. If yes, then you better be there.”
Tendulkar is also a passionate believer in inspiring more women’s participation in sports.
“As a UNICEF ambassador, I feel all of us should be encouraging our children to go out and play, more so a girl child because normally the tendency is to get the boy out to play in gardens and do sort of sporting activities. On the other hand, a girl has to help her mother to do all the household things, which I don’t agree with,” Tendulkar said through a video message. “The girl should have the freedom to make their own choices, and if a girl wants to go out and play, she should have the freedom to go out and play and enjoy herself. If we all get together and support them and encourage them to do whatever they want to do in life, I am sure the results will follow.”
Tendulkar, who was also the ambassador for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, said that he has been a big follower of women’s sports. He felt that digital media was a strong platform to widen the reach of the women’s sport.
“Women for sport and sport for women go hand in hand. That’s why I am here to support and enjoy the competitiveness and that fierce competition,” he said. “I have always been a huge fan of women’s sports, been a huge fan of tennis personally and followed some amazing careers of champions.
“For women’s sport to get popular, the prominent reason is digital platform. With digital platform the power is any little thing that happens in any part of the world, within minutes the whole world comes to know,” he added. “Today’s generation believes in digital platform. The world is getting smaller and smaller. Today’s generation have all these accesses, their mindset has changed, parents mindsets have changed. My message to all the parents: to encourage their children to go out and play. Lead healthy lives.”