A Better World Through Sports (part I)

By Shivam Srivastava|1st Sep 2009
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The most common ideas in social entrepreneurship tend to focus on fields like micro-finance, rural livelihood and healthcare. Today we focus on a completely different and often ignored breed of innovators – those leading the change through sports. There are a diverse set of projects ranging from NGOs to for-profit social enterprises that are looking at sports as a way to engage the youth from all segments of society.

The first such project is the Oscar Club of Mumbai, started by Ashok Rathod in 2006. The program provides structured football coaching for at-risk youth while encouraging them to attend educational classes. As a pre-requisite to participation, the kids need to attend and pass their classes as well as take supplementary reading and writing lessons. There is a great interview highlighting Ashok’s work on Change.org. One thing from the interview that really inspired me is the impact that just one person can have on so many lives – Right now there at 40 students who attend classes at least twice a week and are learning key team and leadership skills through sports.

Another creative project revolves around a sport you would only expect to see on an average American university campus – Ultimate Frisbee! Thanks to Ahmedabad Ultimate, an Indicorps project, now you can catch it at your very own local Ahmedabad playground. Since 2004 this program has been bringing together underprivileged youth and imparting valuable skills through extremely fun games of Ultimate. They are also training local college students to go out into the community to coach and build playing groups of about a dozen children. You should definitely check out AU’s site on Indicorps.org and if you are curious, the Wikipedia page on Ultimate.

In the next part of this series, we focus on India Khelo – a for-profit organization that wants to change the sports culture of India. Not ones to simply complain about India’s performance at the last Olympics, this group of recent IIT’ians is setting about changing the mindset of both parents and children towards sports.

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