“The magic happened 12 years ago when I was introduced to rugby,” says Ravi excitedly. “When I first saw the rugby ball, I thought it was some sort of an inflated egg!” adds Ravin, mischievously.
Meet Ravi, Magic Bus’ energetic, young trainer and a skilled rugby player, for whom sports is not just a hobby, but a way of life.
Ravi belongs to the banjara or the gypsy community. His childhood was spent in a slum in the bylanes of Colaba. His parents were daily wage labourers who worked tirelessly to make ends meet. They have never been to school.
In his words, the ‘turning point’ in his life was his introduction to Magic Bus. Here he played rugby for the first time and fell in love with the game. Such was his liking for rugby that he started taking an hour off on Sundays from work to participate in Magic Bus’ programme. ‘I wanted to involve myself as much as I could.’ With the help of Magic Bus’ youth mentor, he quit his job as a salesman and became the grounds man of the Cross Maidan where Magic Bus’ weekly programme was held. He was paid some money for the same.
Soon his single-minded dedication started reflecting on his performance. He was selected to represent India in the Indo-Pak Beyond Boundaries meet - a meet which also served as a cultural dialogue between the youth from sporting background from both the nations. For the first time in his life, he could step out of his familiar surroundings and meet people his age but from different cultures and socio-economic groups.
Ravi was a key member of Magic Bus’ rugby team, the Magicians, from a very young age. He was also selected represent Maharashtra in the inter-state rugby tournament where his stellar performance won him a berth in the national side. He didn’t have a passport and therefore, could not participate in the match. Like a true sportsman, he refuses to let such disappointments come in his way. Ravi still harbours the dream to play for India in New Zealand one day.
He has dreams for his siblings as well. He doesn’t want them to struggle the way he has. So, when started working with Magic Bus in 2009 in the capacity of a youth mentor, he also began contributing to the family income and ensuring that his siblings complete their schooling.
Today, as Magic Bus Assistant Trainer Ravi reaches out on a weekly basis to nearly 50 children every week. Apart from this he also trains not just youth but even key government officials and teachers in the Sports for Development approach.
You, too, can support a youth like Ravi to break out of poverty and chart a new course in his or her life. DONATE NOW.Back