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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Legends at the Park

Kapil Dev and Ian Botham were vying for the ball. Kapil didn’t bat nor did Botham bowl and they didn’t play cricket.

Rather they were trying to outdo each other in a game of football. Two of the greatest all-rounders were at the Shivaji Park to promote the idea of ‘sport for development’, among children from underprivileged backgrounds.

The children present weren’t even born when Botham and Kapil played at the highest level, yet it was clear that they had heard about their exploits, seen them on television and were now eager to interact with them.

There was the expected mad rush for autographs but it was during a question and answer session that the two legends tried to drive home their point. “Sport has the power to change the world and make it a better place. I am privileged to have played cricket for my country. But many children in our country don’t even get the chance to play any game,” Kapil said, adding, “Why can’t we do our bit in helping these kids get involved in sports?”

Botham believed that celebrities like him had the power to make a difference. “Sportsmen are better agents of change as compared to politicians. The amount of respect and adulation we get is immense. People follow every step of ours and that’s a great background to bring about change in society.”

The initiative organised by Magic Bus, a non-governmental organisation, and supported by Laureus Sports Academy stressed on how much of a positive impact playing sport can have on character-building. “We believe that playing sports help in the channelling of energy, especially for children living in slums and on the streets. Otherwise, they run the risk of indulging in criminal activities,” said Mathew Spacie, founder of Magic Bus.

As soon as the interaction with the media concluded, the duo rushed to play ball with boys, who were present to participate in the inter-zonal competition.

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