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Q&A: Dr Sarah Fane

Friday 29 May

We recently chatted with MCC Foundation Director Dr Sarah Fane about her role and the challenges she has faced starting a new position during a national lockdown.

As one of the MCC Foundation’s newest staff members, tell us what your ambitions are and how your previous roles will help you achieve them?

It is a tremendous privilege to be Director of the MCC Foundation. My previous role was as CEO of a charity I founded in 2002, Afghan Connection, which focused on Education and Cricket. I am passionate about supporting young people and helping them to fulfil their dreams and fulfil their potential.

Afghanistan is a country whose people have suffered from decades of war. I have seen how education and cricket can transform lives for the better. My work was about reaching the unreached, and taking education and cricket to areas where there had been no access to school or sport before. The charity funded construction and renovation of 130 schools and 110 cricket pitches, trained teachers and cricket coaches and held numerous cricket tournaments and coaching sessions across the country. Our projects included support for the disabled and visually impaired, and ensured that girls were offered the same opportunity as boys to access education and the chance to play cricket.

MCC supported our cricket projects and I saw first-hand how their brand and partnership transformed our impact. I am excited to be working alongside MCC now. It is my ambition in my new role to keep faithful to those kinds of goals mentioned above, and to run projects which reach the unreached and help them to fulfil their potential through cricket; projects which bring joy, hope and opportunity and unite people in the common love of cricket.

What are the core principles of The MCC Foundation?

We believe in the power of cricket to unite, empower, and inspire diverse groups of people around the world. We want our delivery to be inclusive and collaborative and to enhance lives globally through cricket.

Dr Sarah Fane at the Girls' cricket Camp in Kabul

What challenges have you faced starting a new role during a national lockdown?

It has provided opportunities as well as challenges. It has given me time to develop a much fuller understanding of how cricket is delivered in the UK and to talk to charity leaders and stakeholders to see how we can best work together for the good of cricket and the good of our beneficiaries. On the downside, I long to work with my wonderful team, face to face, and to meet with my Trustees in person. All our events have been postponed and life for charities in the current environment is challenging. I am a great optimist and believe that we can make the most of this situation by putting the building blocks in place to thrive in the future.

Charities are more important than ever during this crisis. What is the Foundation doing and how have you adapted plans to help and support the community?

My first initiative was to consider how best to support those most in need in our community around Lord’s. We were unable to implement our cricket projects but that didn’t mean we could not support the most vulnerable at a time of crisis. So we launched an appeal to fund meals for the homeless in Westminster Borough who are temporarily housed in hostels. We had a tremendous response from Members and supporters, and have raised in excess of £78,000, providing 23,000 meals.

What would you like to be able to say in five years about the MCC Foundation?

I would like to be able to say that we have provided hope and opportunity to marginalised young people both at home and abroad and that our projects have helped to unite and integrate communities and countries through cricket.

I want to see our impact not just in numbers, but in individuals who have at times felt isolated and without hope, and who can now stand tall and fulfil their potential because of our projects.

I would like to be able to say that our projects have opened up the cricket talent pathways to young people from all backgrounds and that this has helped to make participation in top level cricket a tangible ambition for any young person.

What life lesson have you learnt from this experience?

Coming from a charity which I founded and whose pathway I directed over 18 years, I have had to adapt to a very different structure and way of doing things – all the more harder in lockdown. I have learned that despite all the pressures I feel to race forwards, it is best to invest time in fully understanding the landscape of cricket delivery and to work to build on and diversify strong foundations rather than re-invent the wheel.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, and by who?

Along the lines of…stay true to yourself and passionate about the support you can offer despite the many challenges you will face along the way.

Our Patrons are wise and caring individuals and between them, Claire Taylor, Mike Brearley and Mike Atherton have been tremendous guides, as have my Trustees.

The Chiswick Calendar Podcast

Afghan cricket with Dr Sarah Fane OBE
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