-Bandepalya celebrates the opening of a new safe space to play sports
-Space will be home to sustainable programs teaching young people life-skills through sports.
Community leaders, local residents, and youth gathered in Bandepalya, Bangalore, today to participate in the opening of a new multifunctional sports court dedicated to the local community and its residents. The global project, led by ESPN, has seen community spaces created across Latin America. Bangalore is the first city in Asia to benefit from ESPN’s safe spaces initiative.
The court and surrounding area was refurbished with the help of community members along with ESPN and Disney employees. It will be home to ongoing development programs for young people in the community aimed at teaching life-skills and empowering them to fulfil their potential, all through the power of sports. The program will be delivered by Magic Bus, a non-profit organization with its roots firmly set in India. Magic Bus will strive to equip children and young people of Bandepalya with the essential skills and knowledge to be able to break the cycle of poverty, take control of their lives and become active members of their community. These life skills – ranging from education and gender equality to health and employability – will be taught by youth leaders from within the community, with support and training from Magic Bus’ unique mentorship program.
The inaugural event, hosted by ESPN India presenter, Raunak Kapoor and Indian radio host, Monita Bala, was attended by Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International, Ramesh Kumar, Vice President, ESPN India and South Asia and Ashwini Nachappa, former athlete and an Indian film actress from Karnataka as well as community volunteers who helped build the space, local residents and their families; ESPN and Disney employees; and community sports and arts organizations. The celebration included cultural performances, special recognition of community leaders who volunteered their time to the project, as well as football and cricket matches open to the community.
“At ESPN we believe that sports has the ability to transform lives, and we are proud to be able to support and empower communities like Bandepalya to unlock the benefits that sports offer,” said Russell Wolff. “Both love.fútbol and Magic Bus have been outstanding partners on this project, helping build this safe space in a community where there is a need and where it can truly make a difference.”
Bandepalya is spread over approximately two kilometers, has a population of more than 7,000 people and is one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Bangalore. It suffers from low access to quality education, health and hygiene, adequate housing, clean drinking water, sanitation and open spaces to play. With high dropout rates from school, an average child in Bandepalya only achieves education up to eighth grade standards. The area also has high levels of tobacco and alcohol use amongst children at an early age. Matthew Spacie, Founder and Executive Chairman, Magic Bus, said, “Providing a space around which the community can come together alongside structured sports program that will engender leadership and life-skills is an attempt to support the community in facing and overcoming some of the challenges with which it is confronted.”
love.fútbol, which is known to build community sports facilities all over the world, played a key role in selecting Bandepalya for the new play space and court based on need, population and socio-economic status. “Bangalore is home for many of us at ESPN. This safe space is not merely the construction of a sports court for a part of our community, but a space that aims to engage our neighbors in Bandeplaya from its initial creation. We want the Bandepalya community to have a true sense of ownership that enables sustainable growth and impactful outcomes into the future. Volunteers from the local community, non-governmental organizations, as well as ESPN and Disney employees have come together to contribute to the building of this space and we are extremely proud to help make it a reality,” said Ramesh Kumar. “This initiative is another way that ESPN is contributing towards the larger goal of using the power of sports to make a difference in the communities we are a part of."