Bengaluru: On Thursday, the local community and students of Bandepalya gathered at the Gharvebhavi Palya Government School to celebrate a unique inauguration of a 'Safe Space' to play sports. The concept, probably the first in the country, is the brainchild of ESPN’s Global Citizenship Program through its ‘Safe Spaces’ initiative, to provide a platform for change through sports for the underprivileged communities.
Their team, along with NGOs – love.futbol and Magic Bus – worked for almost a year to see the project through. By mobilising the community and ensuring quality sports programming, this space will become a hub of local activity and help youngsters practise sports in a safe environment.
Ten marginalised communities, which lacked proper infrastructure, were zeroed down for the project and after evaluating various parameters, like school dropout rate, evaluation of the community and their willingness to have a sports space that could be self-sustainable Bandepalya was selected for the multifunctional sports space.
“Volunteers from the NGOs will assist ESPN's corporate social responsibility (CSR) team in engaging the local communities. We hope to enlist some 1,200 people at Bandepalya by the end of the year. Our goal is to connect to not just the local community, but also those around Bandepalya," said Ramesh Kumar, vice-president, ESPN India.
Bandepalya is spread over approximately two kilometres, has a population of over 7,000 people and is one of the most economically backward areas of the city.
The locality also suffers from low access to quality education, health and hygiene, adequate housing, clean drinking water, sanitation and open spaces to play. With high dropout rates, an average child in Bandepalya studies only till eighth standard.
“The area also has high levels of tobacco and alcohol use among children. By providing them a space around which the community can come together, along with a structured sports programme to inculcate leadership and life-skills in them, we try to support the community in overcoming some of the challenges," said Matthew Spacie, founder and executive chairman, Magic Bus.
“Beyond just providing high-quality multi-sports infrastructure, we are also aiming to help children by getting them to be passionate about sports and empower them. We want to use the power of sport to address social needs positively," said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International....