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Matthew Hayden fondness for the Tiwi Islands dates back to 2004, when Australia played Sri Lanka in a short Test series in Cairns and Darwin. Now, after his retirement, he has chosen to devote his energies to promote development among the indigenous population there, using cricket as one of the means. "This project is really to facilitate what this wonderful group of people want to achieve in their own community," Hayden told The Weekend Australian. "It embraces all the facets of life which I think are important to a growing child. Sport and the great role it plays, understanding food and the importance of diet and also wellbeing and development through education, which creates self-esteem."
Hayden has visited the islands – just off the coast of Darwin – each year since 2004, and this time he has the company of Allan Border, Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel, former Wallaby Matthew Burke, and 13 prominent corporate executives who have raised AU$200,000 between them for his project. There will be a cricket match on offer, between Hayden XI and Border XI, with an expected turnout of 1000 people, half the islands’ population.
The project also involves a sustainability program, involving planting fruit, vegetable and grain crops, as well as introducing poultry for consumption and sale across the islands.