What happens when 3 enterprising sports journalists, during their rounds covering the local sports scene, come across many under-privileged children who have tremendous potential but cannot afford the right sports gear? Their heart strings are pulled and Project Play is born! The concept couldn’t be simpler – they collect information about kids who are talented but could do with some better gear. Project Play broadcasts these requirements to their donors, sponsors and followers on twitter and facebook. They then collect old, torn, mangled sports gear that the owner no longer needs or uses, fixes it and hands it to the kids. Kudos to Kunaal Majgaonkar, Shail Desai, Jigna Padhiar for coming up with something so simple and effective!
We caught up with Kunaal to ask him a couple of questions about this initiative.
TBI: What inspired Project Play and what is it all about?
As maidan-trotting sports journalists covering the local sports scene, we came across a lot of inspiring stories of children who are beating odds in life and finding solace in sport. The stories always made for fantastic articles but that was that. We wanted to take this a step further and give our two mites. Project Play was an idea born at the maidans and considering our knowledge of the children playing sport, we were sure the sports gear would only reach deserving hands – or legs!
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We connect with school coaches too who know their boys inside out. They always keep us posted should there be any deserving child with potential and we get our act together. We are trying to reach out to Municipal schools where sports is not so encouraged because it’s these kids who need an outlet more than anyone considering the tough backgrounds they come from. We realised watching these lil heroes that sports is a lot more than just kicking a ball around..
TBI: What do you hope to achieve with your initiative and how have you gone about it?
The ultimate aim is to make sport accessible to every kid who wants to play it and also ensure that genuine talent is not killed because of lack of gear or opportunities. We have just begun and are taking baby steps but have a lot of plans over the next twelve months.
TBI: Tell us a little about the founders and team behind the Project
There’s Shail Desai, Jigna Padhiar and me with the help of a lot of friends who are running Project Play. Shail and me used to be colleagues at the Times of India before he switched to the Hindustan Times but we’ve managed to keep our newspaper rivalry out of this 🙂
It’s something we both feel about a lot since we are sports journos. Jigna too has a newspaper background but is into serious art and has a job with the Indian Foundation for Arts. Her home is used as our dumpyard where all the sorting and storing of everything we collect is done. She’s the one who usually gives our excited ideas a little practicality! Us apart, we have friends who are always ready to chip in with whatever help.
TBI: How can our readers join in your efforts?
We’re on facebook and twitter and anyone who wants to hand in stuff just needs to drop in a line. We have had people from other cities wanting to give in stuff which has us thinking that we can have a Project Play Bangalore or a Project Play Pune and so on instead of sending things over to Mumbai. So if any reader is keen to take the initiative, we’re only more than happy. We also accept new gear and have a ‘sponsor a sportstar’ program where anyone who wishes could sponsor a kid’s sporting needs.