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UC graduate sets up cricket foundation with marketing degree

UC graduates uses marketing degree to help set up cricket foundation

June 24, 2014

A University of Canterbury graduate has set up the Cricket Live Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation using cricket to help change the lives of children from slum areas in India and Sri Lanka.

Canterbury business marketing graduate Alex Reese set up the New Zealand-based foundation after spending time in India.

``The idea of Cricket Live started when I was living in Mumbai nearly two years ago. I met a local taxi driver called Lax and became great friends with him and his family. He lived in a slum in South Mumbai and because of this I ended up spending a lot of time there.

``Life in the slums opened up my eyes and made me realise just how generous, loving and humble Indian people like Lax were. On my last day there, Lax asked me where he could go to get some cricket coaching for his two sons.

``I knew I had to do something for people like Lax. I wanted to do something slightly different, where underprivileged children can learn cricket, but at the same time develop valuable life skills and an alternative education to set them up for their futures.

``It’s a different concept to most cricket academies, but I always find that if you develop the person first, they will naturally flourish as a player. Sport has so many parallels to life and I want to use the power of cricket to benefit these children in as many ways as possible.

``With support from Dilmah Tea we have set our first centre up in Colombo, Sri Lanka and have been operating there for about six months. There are 50 kids at our centre and we will welcome another 250 in September. They will be with us for three years.

``I’ve played cricket all my life here in Canterbury. I was fortunate to play in the Canterbury age group teams, and in the Willows Cricket Club’s youth team, which was picked from players all around the country, to tour India, Oman and Sharjah in 2008.

``I am finishing my New Zealand Cricket Level 3 coaching qualification which is the final certificate in the coaching pathway. Last season I took over as coach for the Burnside senior team and have loved the challenge so far.

``The people I am working with in Sri Lanka and India are so deserving. With barely anything to their names, no one is complaining about a lack of resources. They simply get on with the job, work hard day and night and make their families proud.

I would like to get John Wright and Sir Richard Hadlee involved in a more official capacity when we have been running longer. At the moment we have five staff; four coaches and one operations manager. They are all from the area where we operate so their local knowledge is second to none.

``I go over there regularly to make sure that everything is running smoothly and to report back to our sponsors but most of the day to day operational work is done by our local team. Back here in Christchurch it is all fundraising, putting together educational material and establishing and developing key relationships at this end to make the program a success.

``The earthquakes opened my eyes a bit. I was just on my second day at the University of Canterbury when the February earthquake hit and from that day on, I was blown away at how staff at the University got on with what they had to do and get the place open again. That made me realise there’s no time like the present and if you want to do something, do it now. My marketing degree has helped me a lot in the foundation work,’’ Reese says.

Burnside cricket chairman and the University of Canterbury’s director of Human Resources Paul O’Flaherty says he cannot speak highly enough of Reese who is skilled and mature beyond his years.


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