Capital hops on for a ride on Magic Bus | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Capital hops on for a ride on Magic Bus

delhi Updated: Jul 29, 2010 01:08 IST
Siddhanth Aney
Siddhanth Aney
Hindustan Times

It is not everyday that a playground in east Delhi plays host to three Olympians, who between them have nine gold, and a man who is one of the most powerful in world football.

But the offbeat venue was the perfect setting for an interaction between British sporting legends, Steve Redgrave, Sebastian Coe, Kelly Holmes, Richard Scudamore, CEO of the English Premier League, and Magic Bus, a non-governmental organization (NGO), and children from some of the most underprivileged sections of Delhi society.

Jeremy Hunt, British Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, announced the Premier League's collaboration with Magic Bus to impart life skills over the next three years. Also, on the agenda is to train coaches.

Magic Bus's philosophy is to use sport as the medium to impart valuable skills to children who do not have the opportunity to grow outside of the curriculum.

"We chose to work with Magic Bus as much as they chose us. They have a proven track record, and share the League’s philosohy on development through football," said Scudamore.

They have, under the watchful eye of founder Matthew Spacie, worked with over 1.4 lakh young people in India, and hope to cross the one million mark in the next four years.

Announcing a financial grant of six lakh pounds (app Rs 4.3 crore) from the Premier League, over the next three years, Hunt said, "I have met your minister for sport, and Mr Kalmadi, and they were great, but nothing has been as great as meeting these children, and seeing the work that is being done here."

The big names are in town as part of British Prime Minister David Cameron's large entourage, which is in town to aid the UK government's efforts to engage with India; a relationship many feel does not fulfill its economic potential.

If the interaction on Wednesday is anything to go by, the celebrities certainly did impress.

On a hot and humid day, they took almost two hours out of their schedule to play with the kids, understand the working of the programme, and field endless questions on Delhi's preparedness for the Commonwealth Games.Coe and Holmes even organised an impromptu race for the kids, complete with heats, finals, and medals for the winners.

It may have been an exercise in public relations, but to watch sporting names of such magnitude, interact with children at the opposite end of the spectrum with such humility, was uplifting.And whether or not we can learn anything from how London is preparing for the 2012 Olympics, the attitude of those in charge could definitely teach us a few valuable lessons.