Borroloola [Australia], May 28 (ANI): Pat Cummins won't be able to walk along many streets in our nation without being identified, and he will have little relief from the limelight in the coming weeks in England.
Yet, in Borroloola, a small hamlet in the Northern Territory about 400 kilometres from the nearest highway, Australia's men's cricket captain is as unnoticed as he will ever be.
"For the most part they were pretty uninterested in me," laughed Cummins, who spoke to cricket.com.au before his departure for the World Test Championship Final and Ashes campaigns.While he quickly realised that football and Australian rules football are the primary draws of the Indigenous community around 60 kilometres upstream from the McArthur River's mouth, Cummins' emphasis on his visit to Borroloola had nothing to do with his day job.
The 30-year-old spent two days in the small flood-prone town, known for its annual barramundi bounty and the saltwater crocodiles that lurk on its riverbanks, speaking with elders, playing with children, and learning about the challenges of living in one of Australia's most remote places.
Access to critical amenities such as healthcare and education is a huge difficulty in Borroloola, which is about 1000 km southeast of Darwin.
UNICEF Australia believes that the visit of the country's most marketable athlete would help raise awareness about the charity's role in bridging the gap in life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.
Indi Kindi, which is administered in collaboration with the Moriarty Foundation, is run by trained Aboriginal women for children aged 0 to 5 years old and employs a 'Walking Learning' paradigm that encourages mobility and creative expression in young Aboriginal learners.According to the 2021 Australian Early Development Census, 42.3 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are developmentally fragile, compared to 20.6 percent of other children.
"It's about trying to give kids in these remote communities the best possible start," said Cummins.
Cummins and his family are passionate about education. His mother, Maria, was a maths teacher who died in March after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.
Following the birth of his and Becky's first child, Albie, in October 2021, the fast bowler's interest in early childhood development has grown, prompting him to become an ambassador for UNICEF Australia.
Cummins, who grew up in the Blue Mountains and now lives in Sydney's eastern suburbs, recognises that his son will have access to things that many other youngsters will not have."You start thinking about his future and the opportunities you want to provide him, just understanding we're in a really fortunate position," said the fast bowler to cricket.com.au.
"He is going to be really lucky with the start to life he's going to get - and we just know that's not going to be the same for everyone."It is a common shock for Australian cricketers when they first travel abroad to developing countries and witness childhood poverty, often for the first time.
Cummins points out those same disadvantages exist closer to home, too. "We wanted to help out kids of a similar age to Albie," he said. "You hear of lots of programs around the world - well, here in Australia, some communities face these problems as dire as anywhere else in the world."The Borroloola community - the soccer team they run out of the school, they have games that are an eight-hour drive away. It's so different to the childhood I grew up having.
"Education and employment is really tough in those areas. You're just exposed to such different things to what I was exposed to as a kid growing up in western Sydney.
"Providing these programs really is an anchor for a lot of them in their lives. It gives the teachers purpose outside of just family, they become real leaders and grow themselves.
"It is really amazing how these programs have a huge impact on these communities," concluded Cummins. (ANI)