Indian cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara is setting an inspirational example with his attempt to take cricket to all sections of the society. And he has started with his home town.
The batsman and his father have invested in six acres of land in Rajkot, where they’ve developed a cricket academy for children from underprivileged families who are interested in the sport.
“Rajkot doesn’t have any ground where children can practice regularly. In Mumbai, you have Shivaji Park and Azad Maidan where proper good-quality nets take place. I was lucky that Railway gave us one pitch to practice but that is not available anymore. Someone has to provide them the basic facilities otherwise, how will they grow as cricketers?” he told The Indian Express.
Cheteshwar Pujara was born in Rajkot. His father, Arvind Shivlal Pujara was a Ranji player and he played for Saurashtra. Rajkot has a Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium where international matches are organised. Pujara’s academy is located about 5 km from the stadium. It has six practice pitches, a small gym, a make-shift dressing room, and a battery-run bowling machine. A bathroom and a rest room are also under construction.
Pujara has arranged for a van that picks up children from in and around the city, so they can reach the academy easily. They have been provided with training jerseys and shoes as well.
“I was lucky that I have my father who looked after me and my cricket but there are many here who just can’t afford this sport. I remember one evening after the IPL, my dad told me to let’s have a big ground where we can train and train others too. I just couldn’t say no to it,” he said.
Currently 30 children are being trained at the academy.