Published: 01/07/2019 By Allan Fuller
Just before the start of The Championships, Wimbledon 2019, the remarkable tennis ball installation that overlooks the London skyline from Greenwich Park is a poignant reminder of the huge numbers of people around the world who could be enjoying a healthy future if only they had clean water close to home.
Across the world, 1 in 10 people don’t have clean water and 1 in 4 lack access to a decent toilet. Without these basic necessities children often miss school due to the burden of water collection or water-related illnesses and every day, thousands of lives are lost.
Each tennis ball that makes up the fountain represents a death that could be prevented if everyone everywhere had clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. The fountain will be placed by the Wimbledon Park queue for tickets during Wimbledon fortnight.
The partnership between WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation is helping to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for health centres, schools and communities in Ethiopia, Malawi and Nepal. The fountain is part of their #TeamWater campaign.
Helen Parker, Head of the Wimbledon Foundation said: "It’s hard to imagine life without access to clean water, yet for 1 in 10 people around the world, this is a daily reality, holding whole communities back from fulfilling their potential.
“Clean water and good sanitation are vital ingredients for health, education and success. The Wimbledon Foundation is proud to team up with WaterAid to champion water for everyone everywhere and help prevent lives being lost needlessly.”
Marcus Missen, Director of Communications and Fundraising at WaterAid, said: “The striking fountain of tennis balls highlights the scale of the global water and sanitation crisis and the urgent need to tackle it together. Each of the 2,631 tennis balls on the fountain represents one human life that could be saved on average every single day if everyone everywhere had access to clean water and decent toilets.
“By working together with the Wimbledon Foundation to provide clean water, we are helping transform lives and ensure healthier futures for generations to come.”
Ketilina Nyundo, aged 37, a mother of three from Malawi, said her life was transformed when WaterAid helped bring water to her village.
Ketilina said: “Since we received a bore hole in the village, life has never felt better. As a community, we have had our livelihoods elevated. More children are going to school. People are now able to build better houses. As a mother, I am now proud to be able to support my children. Unlike in the past where they had to report late for their classes, things have improved now. On top of that, they are doing quite well in school.”
Local schoolchildren from South East London, Lola, 7, Nelly, 9, and Amelia May, 8, visited the fountain to support the #TeamWater campaign.
Lola, 7, from Lee in South East London, said: “It’s so sad that there are children who don’t have water. I can’t imagine life without it. We need it to drink and to wash. We need it for everything. No-one should have to live without clean water.”
The fountain installation will also be on display in Wimbledon Park at this year’s Championships which begin on 1 July. The tennis balls for this installation were gifted by Slazenger, the Official Ball of The Championships, and will be recycled following The Championships.