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Torchbearers On The Magic Bus
Life Skills: A Key to Women’s Empowerment

On July 23, Matthew Spacie, Founder-CEO Magic Bus, a non-profit organisation that works with less-privileged kids, will carry the Olympic torch in London. Also there will be one of their star footballers, Gulafsha Ansari, to showcase her project that empowers the girl child through sport. Mid-Day writes in today's edition.

“Our connect to the Olympics goes back four years. When Great Britain won the bid to host the London Games in Singapore, we were chosen to be a part of the Olympics legacy programme, called International Inspiration, which promotes sport in five countries. We were the grassroots partners, delivering our mentoring curriculum using sports to 1,50,000 children across India’s poorest neighbourhoods,” shares Spacie about how the Olympic connect became a reality for Magic Bus. As part of this partnership, it was suggested that he represent the organisation in the spirit of the Olympics.

Around the same time, BMW, which was one of the key sponsors of the London Olympics and a strategic partner with Magic Bus, had also approached Spacie. They had been given a mandate to select community-based leaders to be Olympic torchbearers. Spacie, who will carry the Olympic torch on July 23 in South London, is elated with the honour, “India tends to keep a low profile at the Olympics so when a platform like this is created; it is a great way to showcase all things Indian. That’s the flag that I am going to be carrying at this platform.”

Mahim girl in London: In fact, Spacie tells us that Gulafsha Kamrulhodda Ansari who joined Magic Bus seven years ago, and is now part of the Magic Bus Women’s Football team will also be in London. The 16-year-old Mahim resident will be presenting her project on empowering the girl child with sport.

Mid-Day ran an exclusive (February 22, 2012) where she was among 11 girls who was chosen to be part of a football camp at the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) in San Francisco, in the summer of last year.

Once back from the camp, the girls chose a social cause they would support. After these causes were submitted to the Julie Foudy Foundation, these were shortlisted and each cause was thrown open to voting. Gulafsha was one of the winners to earn a chance to attend the Olympics in London with Foudy, who is a former US Women’s Soccer Team Captain and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist.