Oz sports minister launches Rs.200 mn programme for the disadvantagedOctober 6th, 2010 - 5:36 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Oct 6 (IANS) Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib Wednesday launched a Rs.200 million (Aus$5 million) five-year programme aimed at developing sports facilities at the grassroots for the disadvantaged in India.
“Sports is much more than winning. Its the joy and happiness on the childrens’ faces while playing which is the actual winning. Giving opportunities to play to the disadvantaged will help in building self-esteem, confidence and resilience,” said Arbib, who is here for the Commonwealth Games.
As he spoke, little girls and children with special needs gamboled on the lush green lawns of the Australian High Commission, where the function was held.
“Millions of Indian children from disadvantaged community groups and people with a disability will benefit from this programme. There are around 700,000 atheletes in India with disabilities, apart from the adolescent girls, primary schoolchildren and coaches who will get an opportunity to enhance their skills,” Arbib’s aide told IANS.
Talking about building brigdes through sports, Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese said: “For Australians sports is our national idiom, cricket being one of our (India and Australia) common grounds. Even hockey in Australia is because of the Indians who settled there, training the next generation. So sports is one way to build further relations between the two countries.”
Five Indian NGOs - Magic Bus, Special Olympics Bharat, Rashtriya Life Saving Society India, Goa Football Association and Naz Foundation (India) Trust - have collaborated in the effort to focus on the various Indian sports played by thousands of disadvantaged children on the streets and in courtyards and parks.
Anjali Gopalan, founder and executive director of the Naz Foundation, an NGO working against the HIV/AIDS, pointed to its GOAl project under which girls from underpriviledged backgrounds come out and play netball. Nearly 400 girls living in urban slums regularly participate in GOAl.
“I have seen the change in young girls. The way they move now, their confidence shows. There are many who aspire to become coaches. They want to go back to school and study, all this because of coming out of their traditional settings and playing netball. It looks small but it does make a difference,” Gopalan added.
Two of the Australian athletes participating in the Commonwealth Games, amongst other sports enthusiasts, were also present at the launch to lend their support to the cause.
As the function ended and the guests dispersed, eight children with special needs were seen playing a game called Bocce, which is related to bowls and in which one hits a ball lying some distance away with another ball. Some distance away, a gorup of 15 girls were happily playing netball.
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