Dharavi Transit Camp Municipal School, Mumbai celebrates the opening of the new space to play and learn
Space will be home to sustainable programs teaching young people life-skills through sports
Former Indian Cricketers Ajit Agarkar and Murali Kartik and West Indian Cricketer Daren Ganga also join the celebration  
Mumbai, India: Community leaders, residents, and youth gathered in Dharavi, Mumbai to participate in the opening of a new, multifunctional sports space dedicated to the local community and its residents. Built to Play is a global project, led by ESPN. This is the second Built to Play project undertaken by ESPN in India, following one in Bangalore in 2017, and its ninth globally.
The court and surrounding area, refurbished with the help of community residents and employees, will provide a safe place to play for the surrounding community, as well as offer programs for young people in the community aimed at teaching life-skills and empowering them to fulfill their potential, all through the power of sports. Magic Bus, a non-profit organization with its roots firmly set in India, will deliver the program. Magic Bus will strive to equip children and young people of Dharavi with the essential skills and knowledge to be able to break the cycle of poverty, take control of their lives and become active members of their community.  These life-skills – ranging from education and gender equality to health and employability – will be taught by youth leaders from within the community, with support and training from Magic Bus’s unique mentorship program.
Ramesh Kumar, Vice President, ESPN India and South Asia; Kevin Martinez, Vice President, ESPN Corporate Citizenship; former Indian cricketersAjit AgarkarMurali Kartik and West Indian cricketer Daren Ganga attended the event along with employees, community volunteers who helped build the space, residents and their families. Raunak Kapoor, ESPN India presenter and RJ Adaa (Priti Jolly), Radio Jockey were the hosts of the day. The celebration comprised cultural performances, special recognition of community leaders who volunteered their time, and sports activities open to the community. “At ESPN we believe that sports have the ability to transform lives, and we are proud to be able to support and empower communities like Dharavi to unlock the benefits that sports offer,” said Kevin Martinez. “Both love.fútbol and Magic Bus have been outstanding partners on this project, helping build this safe space in a community where there is a need and where it can truly make a difference.”
Spanning two kilometers, Dharavi is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with a population estimated at 1 million people. The area is plagued with severe public health problems, and the overall standard of education and enrollment numbers are extremely low, with only a few children opting for higher education. Due to safety issues, many parents hesitate to allow their girls to go out and play. Matthew Spacie, Founder of Magic Bussaid, “Through our program we have seen the impact of sports-based learning on individual behavior. But one of the challenges we face are to provide safe play spaces. With this pitch, ESPN and love.fútbol allow us to reach more children who will benefit from our program, helping them to overcome challenges and enabling a better quality of life. We are very thankful to them.
love.fútbol, which is known for building community sports facilities all over the world, played a key role in selecting Dharavi for the new space based on need, population served and socio-economic status. Speaking on the occasion, Ramesh Kumar, Vice President, Head of ESPN India and South Asiasaid, “The success of Built to Play is heartening as we extend the program to the second location in India in less than two years. Built to Play is designed to utilize sports as a medium to help address challenges faced by youth in under-served communities. Sports transforms lives and builds communities, it offers social benefits to young people, and inspires them to learn and grow. Our partners in this endeavor, love.fútbol and Magic Bus, will work closely with the community in Dharavi to help address social issues through sports. In the first year of the program, we hope to touch the lives of 1,500 young people and then expand the reach further in subsequent years. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your passion become someone else’s passion too.”   


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