28 November 2023
Reflections from the Green Park Global Talent Conference
The Green Park Foundation are delighted to launch The Unity Statement, bringing together leading faith, community and sports figures to join forces in a campaign to drive out discrimination and promote unity in cricket.
The Unity Statement, to be unveiled on the 2nd of June at the first Men’s Test between England and New Zealand, will see representatives from across the country’s religious spectrum take to the pitch alongside the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to stand united in support of changes to make cricket more inclusive.
This is part of a wider inititive to drive inclusion and advance equality in sport, driven by the Green Park Foundation's mission to improve the lives of young people and create more sustainable, equitable world for tomorrow.
The Unity statement will be signed by the country’s top religious figureheads and the sport’s governing body.
The Preamble to The Laws of Cricket states:
“Cricket is an exciting game that encourages leadership, friendship and teamwork, which brings together people from different nationalities, cultures and religions, especially when played within the Spirit of Cricket.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board and organisations across the game have reaffirmed their commitment to this statement, and to ensuring the highest standards of integrity are maintained to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people in the design and delivery of their activities.
As Leaders of a variety of different faiths and communities, we support this commitment and are united in our willingness to work together with the ECB and the wider game of cricket to achieve change and to demonstrate cricket’s ability to unite people and communities from different backgrounds.
Mufti Yusuf Akudi – Imam, Heaven Help Us Cricket Club:
“Guidance for humankind since the first revelation of the word “READ” in the Quran over 1400 years on, we see ourselves that equality for fellow human beings is a big social issue around the world today.
“Cricket, what an amazing sport, a fantastic way of developing skills, bringing unity, strategy, leadership, understanding beyond borders through race, religion and faith. I welcome and commit to this Unity Statement that will bring change and a better tomorrow for all.”
Professor Satvinder Juss, Sikh Faith:
“Religious freedom is the oldest human right. The one right of which mankind has the longest experience. Playing together, like eating together. helps break down barriers, reminding us of the modern values of tolerance, pluralism and broad-mindedness. Sikhism's cardinal principle, 'Sarbat Dha Bhalla' (Peace and Good Tidings to All), reminds us of our common humanity and that we are not alone - and a value which our coming together in sport ultimately epitomises.”
Revd Chris Kennedy - The Archbishop of Canterbury Cricket Team:
“With the blessing of Archbishop Welby, cricket has been a uniting tool that has brought both ecumenical and interfaith engagement that has been breaking ground and changing lives. From cricket programmes in young offenders’ prisons to cricket played in the Vatican, the power of this sport has enabled faith communities to set aside their differences and celebrate their distinctiveness in the shared love of the game that brings hope and builds community.
“We continue to use cricket as a tool that builds society though unity and inclusivity and are proud to be joining our interfaith sisters and brothers in supporting this Unity Statement.”
Professor Simon Lee on behalf of H.E Cardinal Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminster:
“As Pope Pius XII observed in 1945, the question should not be why is the Church bothered about sport but, ‘How can the Church not be interested in sport?’ It is the same for other denominations, faiths and beliefs.
“My friendly Sunday cricket club in an Oxfordshire village has Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, agnostic, humanist and atheist players. We expect the professional game similarly to be all-inclusive.”
Rabbi Nicky Liss on behalf of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis:
“The Chief Rabbi's favourite sporting analogy is that, away from the cricket field, we should all try to be batters and not bowlers. Whereas it is the job of the batter to score runs for the team, it is the task of the bowler to bowl the opponents out. However, real life should not be like cricket. We should never prioritise attacking others for what they believe above the pursuit of what we hold dear, and we should focus on creating bonds of friendship over belittling and excluding others.
“There is much to be gained from taking heed of the Rabbis of the Talmud, who taught that true wisdom is the capacity to learn from every person, and genuine heroism is the ability to turn an enemy into a friend.”
Mohammed Sadiq Patel - Founder of Heaven Help Us Cricket Club:
“This Unity Statement sealed by eminent faith and community leaders, who have worked tirelessly and with great dedication for the betterment of society is a beautiful and meaningful reminder to us all on the values and power of unity, and that this beautiful game is really about building trust and developing people from all backgrounds.
“I found the true meaning of cricket in a wonderful book about the purpose of life and valuing others: ‘To go beyond race, culture and nationality and position ourselves as humans without borders, with a vital commitment to protect man and environment; To fight discrimination in all its forms and support all forms of inclusion; To respect differences that make us unique; And to promote interaction among people of different cultures and beliefs.’”
Gulfraz Riaz – Chair, National Asian Cricket Council:
“The spirit of playing good sport is clearly manifest in the tradition and example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh). The Beloved Prophet (pbuh) encouraged the playing of healthy sports that requires people to demonstrate good sportsmanship and good character. Spiritual training is the underlying force behind physical training and sportsmen are encouraged to continuously work hard to suppress their egos, which in effect sums up the spiritual pathway of a Muslim.”
Lonsdale Skinner – Chair, African Caribbean Cricket Association:
“Use today to look carefully at yesterday to ensure that the tomorrows are better for our children and the children's children.”
Emma Slade a.k.a. Ani Pema Deki - Buddhist nun of Drukpa Kagyu Lineage:
“Mutual understanding and respect underlie all positive human endeavour and this is clear in the field of sport. Long may such activities bring people together to strengthen friendships, inspire us to stretch beyond our apparent limits and bring joy to many.”
Chanda Vyas - Hindu Priest:
“When you play the wonderful game cricket, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what you do, what matters is the ball being bowled and the batter batting. The playing field Unites us for a common purpose on the field and this is exactly what we should do off the field. When communities join together for a common ambition we can truly make a difference and make the world a better place and that’s exactly why I’m supporting this initiative.”
“Today, on this field, and on millions of fields like this one, we come together not divide by the colours and logos on our shirts. We come together, united by the hours of tireless effort and dedication on the journey behind us. We come together, united by the dedication, drive and commitment to be the best possible versions of ourselves.”
Colin Salmon, Chair, Green Park Foundation:
“We learn through play, by emulating what we see. We learn physical engagement, balance, hand eye coordination, passion, our limits, aptitudes, likes and dislikes.
“We learn about ourselves. As importantly we learn about each other. We all need to play. It’s in our nature to look for connection and games strengthen our minds, bodies and spirits. They strengthen our resolve, our resilience and our sense of justice. They deepen our understanding of victory, defeat and parity. We learn to accept responsibility for the choices we make during the game.
“We are all these things and so much more. We all learn through play and we all wish to thrive throughout our lives, leaving an open door for all those who follow.”
Raj Tulsiani – Chief Executive Officer, Green Park:
“The beauty of the Unity Statement is its simple focus on how kindness and equality speaks to the heart of all belief systems, its power is it has brought together more faith leaders than anything of it kind before, its impact will accelerate on speaking truth to those powers and aligning their influence to make real accountability a blessing to benefit those for whom equality can no longer remain a dream.”
Tom Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, England & Wales Cricket Board:
“This Unity Statement demonstrates cricket’s ability to bring people together, and to connect communities. Our sport can be an immense power for good. By working together, we can ensure that cricket really is a game for everyone.”
To find out more about the Green Park Foundation, click here.