The Christchurch Premier League cricket season starts Sunday and last year's runner up, Canterbury Pheonix, will be batting to win not just the tournament but to help children and families in Sri Lanka living in the economic crisis.
Last season the team collected donations at each match and raised $2,060 for ChildFund's work in Ukraine and Moldova, helping children and families displaced by the Russian invasion.
Team manager Lathish Mon Thankachan Mulamoottil says playing for a cause gave the team an extra spring in their step, even opponents noticed it.
Some of the players are from Sri Lanka and he expects there to be even more motivation on the field this year.
We sat down with Lathish to talk about the upcoming season.
ChildFund (CF): Why is it important to you and the team to support ChildFund's work in Sri Lanka this season?
Lathish (LM): Cricket is a sport that unites people. One thing that is common for cricket enthusiasts is that playing cricket starts at a young age. We start when we are kids, free of any inhibitions or convictions playing gully cricket or playing with our pads and a plastic ball just before our exams while others are doing last-minute revisions outside the examination hall. We were able to do all that because of the environment around us. For children living in the places where ChildFund works, they are are facing their everyday lives is in itself a feat of bravery. To play to support these children is an honour.
We have always had players from Sri Lanka in the Canterbury Pheonix and they have always been exemplary performers. We love the energy they bring to the team and we would like to help our brothers and their compatriots. Words of consolation do not do justice when the country's future is threatened so we wish to act as a unit. Supporting ChildFund changes the way we play and makes us part of something bigger and something that brings out the best in us and inspire others in the community. We would also like to say thank you to our volunteers from Sri Lanka Randika Dissanayake, Niluka Dilshan and Pubudu Nuwan
CF: What did it mean to you and the team to fundraise for ChildFund last season? How did it help with motivation?
LM: It was definitely a strong feeling for each and everyone who was part of the team, everyone realized the gravity of our cause, and that added fuel to our journey last year. The team was more cohesive than others on the ground. Backing teammates and roaring on the field even if not in the Playing XI. When the tournament was finished, we heard from other teams how much they had felt our presence and some described playing against us as "an experience". We built long-lasting camaraderie throughout the season and we are looking forward to welcoming new volunteers that will be playing for us this season. We can't wait to get back on the ground wearing the Canterbury Phoenix jersey and to raise funds and awareness for ChildFund's work.
Visit Canterbury Phoenix fundraising page here to make a donation.
Learn about how ChildFund is responding in Sri Lanka here.