Not only will the Indian Premier League (IPL) bring with it a lot of cricketing action to South Africa, it will also contribute towards education in the country. An eight million rand (over $890,000) scholarship programme was announced Friday by IPL Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi and it will be among the largest community programmes in South Africa by a sports organisation.
The Help Educate And Teach (HEAT) programme was launched at the Alexander Sinton High School in the suburb of Athlone with headmaster Faziel Parker ceremoniously receiving 100,000 rands paid into a dedicated scholarship fund at the school from Modi.
Also present at the ceremony were captains and leading players of DLF IPL teams including Shane Warne, Kevin Pietersen, Yuvraj Singh, M.S. Dhoni, Aakash Chopra, R.P. Singh and Daniel Vettori, as well as Bollywood stars and team owners Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta.
Modi told the learners that a good education remains at the heart of any effort to develop and uplift individuals and nations.
"Talented sports people can become big stars, but without a good education there is something missing from sporting achievement. And for those of us not blessed with outstanding sporting talent, our futures are built on ensuring that we stay in school and equip ourselves for a productive and successful life," he said.
Modi said that the emergence of a modern and successful India in recent times has been built on a strong education foundation: "This emphasis on education is now paying off many times over as India has grown into an economic powerhouse far better equipped to lift people out of poverty.
"This experience and several similarities between India's and South Africa's programmes to address poverty were central to our decision to focus on education as the DLF IPL's investment in South African communities in need," said Modi.
"The management and owners of the IPL franchises also wanted to 'Leave a Glow' as a real and meaningful token of our immense gratitude to all of South Africa for embracing us and making it possible to launch and mount a tournament of such scale and ambition in such an impossibly short time.
"Modern India owes its spectacular growth and vibrancy to one thing and one thing only - a total commitment to education. And it is this commitment that the IPL wishes to leave as its humble legacy of its visit to this lovely country. From the heat of the competition, the HEAT initiative was forged - to Help Educate And Teach," he said.
The HEAT programme will benefit schools and individual learners.
Four schools in need in the vicinity of each host city have been identified to receive 100,000 rands each for a specifically dedicated scholarship fund. In all, 32 schools will benefit from this aspect of the HEAT programme.
The second part of the HEAT programme will benefit individual learners attending DLF IPL matches. With the help of match television producers, five learners will be identified at every match and their faces flashed on the stadium screens. Each of these will have 15,000 rands paid into their school fees account in their names.
"It is well known that many parents struggle with school fees while striving to ensure that their children stay in school and get a good education. We hope the HEAT programme will make a real difference in the lives of those who benefit from it," said Modi.