Aasra At SPJIMR – Because Sports Is For Everyone
There is a distinct buzz in the corridors of the S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai. Despite innumerable hours of classes, excitement envelopes us as we prepare for our flagship sports festival- SPRINT. SPRINT is India’s largest b-school sports fest where teams from b-schools all across India will battle it out in different sports events.
As we scamper in and around campus for creating an unforgettable sports experience, values of SPJIMR in our veins propel us towards a socially sensitive motive of uplifting society along the way. This lead to the inception of “AASRA”- a sports day for differently-abled kids, conducted in association with the DoCC (Development of Corporate Citizenship) Committee at SPJIMR.
SPRINT, with its tagline “Iss Runbhumi Khel Jeetega” (The only winner in this battlefield will be sports), believes that victory is not about a person. When asked about sports, Sreenath Nair, the convener for SPRINT says, “Sports is not about winning, in fact it is about the journey which changes you as a person from within.”
Held in the premises of SPJIMR, Bhavans Campus, AASRA included multiple sports for more than 80 children and adults with special needs followed by cultural performances by both our guests and SPJIMR students. The event was conducted with the help of “Life is a Ball”, an NGO co-founded by Tennis player Somdev Devvarman and was supported by three other NGOs – Om Creations Trust, Shraddha Charitable Trust and Adapt (Spastics Society of India).
As the participants alighted from the bus, their enthusiastic smiles filled our hearts with excitement. They were disciplined, obedient and innocent. As we directed them towards the SPJIMR amphitheatre, casual conversation began and suddenly, it felt like a happy family reunion. It had never been easier to talk to anyone that informally, ever since the beginning of our MBA journey. It was a warm, windy day and our smiles were sunnier than the sun. It felt as of we were seeing our own batchmates in a new light. Everyone had their heart full of affection.
We had organized many games on the field for our guests. Dividing them into groups, we began giving them a demo of the instructions of the games and soon realized that they were more excited than us to begin! Laughter and cheer filled the air as we shouted “Come on! Come on! Come on! You can do it!” and all the “Yay(s)!” right after they had left other participants behind. I remember Valacia, suffering from Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy, excitedly asking me when will the dance event begin. She said she had practised a lot and had her costumes ready in her bag. Even in the midst of all that sultry hustle, it felt like everything had stopped. The world was suddenly so perfect with not a thing to worry about. Their smiles and excitement meant everything to us. It felt like a manifestation of value-based leadership in real life.
Sweaty and tired after a lively hour at the grounds, the happy family moved back to the beautifully decorated amphitheatre to begin the stage performances. The crowd cheered on its friends on stage with loud claps and pumping spirits. The group performances were very well coordinated with raw innocence and beautiful smiles. I vouch for every volunteer when I say this: the performances were so beautiful and perfect, it left us all with muscle pain from smiling and clapping so hard throughout. In fact, there was a small lesson for us in the middle of all this joy. Natasha, diagnosed with mental retardation, was on stage for a solo performance on the song ‘kajra-re’. Due to a technical glitch, the song stopped and re-started 3 times during her performance, which meant that she re-started her performance twice. Each time she had to re-start, she did it without remorse, with the prettiest smile I have ever seen on stage. It was a humbling experience to see her carry on with grace, and I believe that we learnt in a very subtle, yet valuable way that the warrior spirit manifests itself in many ways and it lends you the courage and heart to keep moving ahead.
At the end of our event, we recognised the winners and participants with medals, finding it hard to believe that the day had to be wrapped up to stow away in our memories. We waved cheerful goodbyes to all the participants as they peeped out of their buses to wave back to us. Aasra helped us recognise the spirit of inclusiveness in sports and reinforced that sports is for everyone!
About the Author:
Addete Nandi is a first-year student at SPJIMR, pursuing Marketing Management after 22 months of experience as a software developer and 4 months internship in 3D printer manufacturing.