Meet Sheetal Suryavanshi Mahendra and her old sports buddies Lakshmi Hariharan, Lakshmi SS and Shoba Aval., former Karnataka under-21 cricket, handball and baseball players: A motley crew on a mission.
It has been a while since they hung up their cricketing gear and the kookaburra in their hands was replaced by a mouse, but now they’re ready to don their spikes and pull that baseball cap back over their heads. These 25-somethings want to give back.
To that little boy whose eyes light up when he sees the ball soar into the crowd, but cannot afford a bat, to that young girl who can run like the wind but has never heard of Nikes or stopwatches, to all those youngsters with hordes of talent who display it where no one ever watches them play. They came together with the idea and before you can say “Game, Set and Match”, Aata Odanaata was born.
With a big dream and a whole lot of will, and nothing much else, they set themselves to work. Aata Odanaata, (means Sports and Bonding in Kannada) the NGO they created, aims at spreading sports awareness amongst economically challenged kids. It hopes to involve itself in sports education, conducting sporting events and teaching basic health and hygiene to youngsters in rural schools, orphanages and city slums.
It will work to identify and nurture talent through sponsored training and mentoring. It will collaborate with other NGOs to create sporting opportunities for special kids. It will bring in recognized sportspersons and coaches to mentor and train its target talent pool.
AO has tied up with Sikshana , an NGO that has adopted over 130 schools in Kanakapura Taluk in Karnataka. Here volunteers meet with the kids every week and engage them in sports and hygiene instruction.
The first Shikshana 20-20 cricket event is scheduled to commence soon. An event will be conducted this month for kids being rehabilitated by Makkala Jagriti, a local NGO.
AO is working with the Usha School of Athletics to bring in training practices and mentoring from their athletic coaches. Under the U.S.H.A banner, athletic events will be conducted here. National and regional sportsmen from other fields are being drawn into the fold to meet and instruct beneficiaries.
Aata Odanaata is the inspiration of four sportspersons. Funded entirely by corporates and individuals with big hearts and sporting inclinations. Helped by students, friends, families and geeky techies from around the city. Ravindra Krishnappa from Shikshana had this to say:
“We at Sikshana are pleased with the fact that NGOs like “Aata Odanaata” are working in clearly demarcated areas where they can be called upon for complementary help especially sports. We hope that the presence of “role models” will act as a catalyst to the children and they blossom with all-round development…”
Aata Odanaata needs you too. If you still have those old sports shoes, those trophies behind the cupboard, that love for competitive sports and for all things good and clean, if you have the time and the willingness to make this work…come join the team.
Be a volunteer, a coach, a contributor or a well wisher. Come play with the kids, help them learn and watch them win. Become an AO Buddy Today.
Contact Sheetal at firstname.lastname@example.org or at this
Nurturing Sports. Building Bonds.
Address- 20, 2nd phase, SBI Staff Colony,
Deverachikanahally, Banergatta Road,