Make Sports a way of life !
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Changing lives through sport, was it a possibility or a dream, I kept thinking as I came out after attending a conference on the same topic. On my way back from the conference organized by FICCI – ADITYA BIRLA CSR Center of Excellence at their plush, 2nd floor conference hall at FICCI New Delhi, one thought after another kept arousing and I could'nt stop myself from writing about a special valentine day in my forty years of professional career.
Believe me it was first time someone has even thought in this direction that “Sport can change life” The Idea, the thought , that “Sport can change lives” is commendable, kudos for FICCI Aditya Birla, CSR center of excellence for taking such a giant stride, your effort will go a long way in times to come.
The Opening remarks by Mr. Paresh Tewary (Director FICCI - Aditya Birla CSR) and the sparkle in his eyes were all set to see the marriage of people who believe in Sports and CSR heads of top notch corporate of India were on cards on this “valentine day”.
I myself have been a strong believer of this concept that Sport is closest to real life ! IT can teach you various life skills and makes you ready to take any opportunity head-on. This reminds me of a quote by our former Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi way back in 1986, while chairing 39th meeting of National Development Council on Education ‘Primarily Education must be for the development of mind, development of personality and for the development of individual. Secondary are skills and income earning capabilities.   If we are able to develop the Human Beings, we will be able to develop individuals and skills.  Earning capacity will come automatically”. These words are true as on date also in the present context, where Sports can teach one and all how to meet the challenges of life.
Towards the end it seemed  to me that the conference was losing direction, i.e. not following opening remarks given by Mr.Paresh Tewary set the stage, which was very well taken up by Rob Lynes Director,  British Council – India. Rob followed the conversation, making audience aware , how British council is changing lives through sports for 12 Million children across 20 countries through their flagship program “ INTERNATIONAL INSPIRATION “, which comprises of two programs Dreams & Teams and PEC India.
Mathew Spacie founder & CEO Magic Bus appraised the audience about the programme and shared what they have been able to achieve with this programme , for children dwelling on the streets, A commendable effort, which could only be 'put to practice' by people who believe in sports and this is much beyond winning medals.
The marriage between SPORTS & CSR will only be possible if CSR Heads starts believing that sports can change the way we live, perform and lead. Let me make one thing very clear, many more like me strongly believe that      ‘a ball can change the world’. This is only possible, if we make sports a way of life ! (My mantra !)
During discussion with few HR Heads of renowned corporate, I curiously have asked many a time , ‘what do you look in people when you hire or promote ’.Spontaneous feedback was Basic knowledge, Ready to learn, Work in teams and go-getter.
All these and much more are imbibed in a person who plays regularly.
Many  a times during the conference the direction drifted like a pendulum from helping elite sports to coaching the players from the word go (catch them young) . The entire focus of the conference could have changed , had not  Vivek Ramchandani, Convener  of the conference from Australian Sports Commission in his summing up remarks emphasized , that the whole idea will be lost unless we give each child  the“right to play’ everyday and start thinking in terms of grooming him through the Power of Sports
I also strongly feel that sports can make a man out of a person. If India has to ‘walk the talk’ in to next decade with a strong foot forward, with the largest number of youth in the world, we will have to rearrange our priorities, so that this number becomes our asset rather than being a liability. The numbers could be an asset if they are successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens.
No one will be able to stop India to its glory if our next generation is possessed with all aforesaid qualities. This could be easily done by making ‘sports a way of life’
Corporate will have to value beyond business, with this way not only they will be able to undertake social responsibility but also will be able to have a ready workforce suited for their needs in future.
Magic bus and PEC India are two such initiatives, which will go a long way in this direction.
Let us all pledge together to “transform lives through sports”
Mukesh Kohli





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