The entire country, and perhaps much of the world, is eagerly waiting for the Indian Premier League to kick off on Friday, but in Hyderabad the wait is just a bit longer for residents of 26 slums.
During the last week of this month, the city will be witness to a Twenty20 tournament played by slumchildren. The event is being sponsored by the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), which has sanctioned Rs 1 lakh.
The tournament is the brainwave of a local NGO — Association for Promotion of Social Action (APSA) — that works in some of these slums.
The NGO found that the Twenty20 format was very popular among the kids and youth and they played the game even without proper facilities. It then decided to plan a tournament and approached the HCA for funds. The idea is to win these slumchildren away from a life of crime and drugs.
"Some of these boys are really skilled. But they have little opportunity to showcase their talent. Many of them are school dropouts and having nothing else to do were susceptible to crimes and drugs," said M Basavaraju, convener of APSA. Altogether 32 teams are expected to take part. The tournament has become the talking point in the slums and has generated so much interest that even elders are encouraging the children in every way possible.
"The teams on their part are practicing rigorously like any professional team, waiting for D-day," said one APSA functionary. "It's a life time dream for me. Who knows it may open some doors for me," said Krishna, one of the players.