From the pitch to progress: Cricket’s role in multiculturalism and innovation | HCLTech

From the pitch to progress: Cricket’s role in multiculturalism and innovation

Gitesh Agarwal, Director of Corporate Affairs at HCLTech and Multicultural Ambassador at Cricket Australia, talks about cricket’s role in promoting DEI, bilateral relations and tech advancement
3 minutes read
Mousume Roy
Mousume Roy
APAC Reporter, HCLTech
3 minutes read
From the pitch to progress: Cricket’s role in multiculturalism and innovation

Cricket, with its global appeal, serves as a powerful platform for promoting inclusivity and cultural exchange. In Australia, the multicultural makeup of cricket teams reflects the country's broader societal diversity, with significant contributions from South Asian communities. Initiatives promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within cricket aim to ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or physical abilities. 

Recently, the HCLTech Trends and Insights team had the privilege to interview Gitesh Agarwal, the Director of Corporate Affairs at ANZ from HCLTech, who was appointed as a Multicultural Ambassador for Cricket Australia. His journey reflects a unique blend of technology, sports and a deeper understanding of how cricket can be a vehicle for social change and a bridge between cultures. 

Agarwal’s appointment as a Multicultural Ambassador for Cricket Australia is not just an honor, but a significant responsibility.

“It's a pretty big responsibility and an acknowledgment of what we do as a multicultural diaspora and I’m really looking forward to not just contributing, but also learning and basking in the power and glory of the other ambassadors," Agarwal said.

His excitement is palpable, especially when he speaks about the esteemed company he is in. "The 53 other ambassadors are achievers in their own right, from players who are legends to people who have written the bilateral Bible for investment and trade."

Cricket: A universal language

Cricket, often considered a religion in India and a cherished sport in Australia, serves as a powerful platform for promoting DEI. Agarwal views cricket as a metaphor for life, where everyone comes together on a level playing field. "Whether it’s cricket or sport, it’s like a big barbecue inside the pavilion. Everyone’s welcome to pull up and join the game," he explains.

"In a cricket team, you have explosive batters, those who defend and the spinners who can do Googly and the Doosra. We all come from different backgrounds and bring our unique strengths to the table," he elaborates. 

Cricket Australia is setting a new standard in inclusivity, diversity and accessibility through its comprehensive strategies and initiatives. Their Multicultural Action Plan aims to reflect the rich diversity of Australian society within the sport. Efforts to accelerate the growth of cricket for women and girls have resulted in over 5000 all-girls teams across the country, with continued commitment to increasing participation and representation. 

Strengthening bilateral relations

Agarwal, who has spent 20 years in the bilateral space working with both federal and state governments, emphasizes the powerful role of cricket in fostering connections between Australia and India. 

"We used to always have these 3C's: commonwealth, cricket and curry. But cricket is the ultimate bridge between Australia and India. We both bleed cricket; it’s in our blood," he remarks. 

Recently, Cricket Australia hosted a significant event in Chennai with leaders from both nations, aiming to build relationships that extend beyond the cricket pitch. This event also focused on inviting large businesses from India to watch upcoming games, hoping to create a vibrant atmosphere where business collaborations and tourism thrive.

Agarwal passionately advocates for inclusion and accessibility in sports. "The beauty of any sport, including cricket, is that everyone can have a go, no matter their physical capabilities," he asserts. While acknowledging the existing challenges, he emphasizes the need for user-friendly facilities and equipment. "We need to upgrade those spaces and ensure everyone has a chance to play and contribute."

Cricket Australia prioritizes creating inclusive environments for the LGBTQ+ community and individuals with disabilities. Partnering with organizations like Inclusion Solutions, Deaf Sport Australia, Deaf Cricket Australia, Sport Inclusion Australia and Blind Cricket Australia, they are dedicated to ensuring that everyone can engage with cricket authentically and safely. 

“We need to shout from the rooftops that there are multiple ways to engage with cricket. You can use your mind, analytical skills and perspective to offer different insights on the pitch. Play sports, smash stereotypes."

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Future plans and vision

"We’ll focus on grassroots initiatives, cultural events and educational outreach," says Agarwal. HCLTech, a significant player in the bilateral space, will continue to support and strengthen these ties.

The Australian Government, through the T20 World Cup legacy initiative, has committed $4.4 million to support Cricket Australia's efforts to engage the growing South Asian community in Australia. This initiative aims to include the million-strong population from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore and Malaysia, all of which have a deep connection to cricket.

He is particularly excited about the role of technology in enhancing sports engagement. "HCLTech supports various sports, from F1 racing with Scuderia Ferrari to the New York Jets and New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. We see sport as an emotional engagement at the highest level," he notes. By leveraging technology, HCLTech aims to make sports experiences more immersive and accessible, bridging distances and creating meaningful connections.

As we look forward to the upcoming cricket seasons and beyond, Agarwal’s initiatives promise to bring exciting developments in the realm of DEI and bilateral relations between India and Australia.

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