Marylebone Cricket Club is not only the world's most prestigious cricket club, it is also the most active cricket club. At any given moment in the year, there is usually an MCC member playing or coaching cricket somewhere in the world. The Club's sides regularly tour overseas to all cricket-playing nations and to developing ones as well - to destinations as diverse as Tanzania and Cyprus - helping to increase cricket's international appeal.
The MCC Foundation complements MCC’s work in promoting the game of cricket abroad, especially to young people. We are currently working with our charity partners on major projects in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Rwanda and, in 2014, supported the Chinese Women's Cricket Team's tour to England.
"The true Spirit of Cricket is spreading joy and hope to this war-torn nation. It is a new story for Afghanistan…a good news story at last."
- Dr Sarah Fane, Founder, Afghan Connection
MCC has supported Afghan Connection’s (AC) cricket projects since 2008, when the Afghan Cricket Team was in the World Cricket League Division 5 and their Academy was a dust field in Kabul. This year, Afghanistan is playing in the ICC World Cup and cricket is the most popular sport in the country.
Through its Foundation, MCC has helped AC to build 50 pitches in schools and coach teachers in the skills of cricket. More than 3,000 boys and girls have benefitted from our coaching camps, with one attendee now in the U16 National team and another representing his country in the World Cup 2015.
At the end of each year, tournaments are held between the schools where pitches have been built. The students’ slogan is “Put down your guns and pick up your bats!”. Not only is cricket a force for peace, but it also brings much-needed joy and hope to a nation which has suffered from years of war.
"Sport is a great way to bring a country together and cricket is one of the fastest-growing sports in Rwanda, with children from all different backgrounds increasingly enthusiastic to pick up a bat and ball. I wish the RCSF every success."
- David Cameron, British Prime Minister and RCSF Patron
Cricket first came to Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, which killed almost one million Rwandans.
In the years that followed, thousands of Rwandans, having grown up playing cricket in exile across East Africa, came home to rebuild their lives. In 2000, a small number of former exiles founded the Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA), and in 2003 Rwanda became an Affiliate Member of the International Cricket Council.
The Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, supported by the MCC Foundation, is building the first dedicated, self-sustaining cricket ground in Rwanda. The game is now Rwanda’s fastest-growing sport, with over 7,000 players and participants in clubs, schools, universities and orphanages across the country. However, it suffers from a chronic lack of facilities. There is only one termite-infested ground, with a concrete wicket and a tired net. The new ground, which will include a high-quality turf pitch, beautiful pavilion and new practice facilities, will provide a new home for game from which it will continue to develop.
However the project is about more than bricks and mortar; it's really about the people who play.
Sport has the power to inspire and unite. This new ground will give Rwandans of all ages, genders and backgrounds the opportunity to experience and play cricket; helping build self-esteem and life skills, acting as a force for gender equality and building bridges between different communities. This is particularly important in a developing country that still bears the scars of genocide.
This new ground will be situated on a 4.5 hectare plot on the outskirts of the capital city, Kigali. It is due to be completed in 2016.
"Our heartfelt gratitude goes to Marylebone Cricket Club in the UK for sponsoring the entire project, beginning with the Tsunami relief match at Lord's, which has helped to make it all happen."
- Foundation of Goodness founder, Kushil Gunasekera
Since MCC staged its Tsunami relief match in June 2005, the Club has forged close links with the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka and continues to support the MCC Centre of Excellence and the MCC Cricket Ground at Sri Sumangala College, where nearly 150 children attend training every week.
Sri Sumangala College promotes and harnesses local talent and has produced some fine young cricketers, some of whom have been further supported by MCC Foundation scholarships to reach higher levels. Foundation of Goodness founder, Kushil Gunasekera, commented: "The MCC Centre of Excellence, created through the generosity and compassion of the MCC, is an amazing facility that provides opportunities for rural disadvantaged children, young people, and women, to improve their future well-being and prosperity."