Abhi is one of a kind. In our life and work, we haven’t seen another like him. His passion for life, his grit, his ethics, his wisdom, dedication, hard work and above all his love for life is truly unmatched.
Abhi often spoke about how sport shaped his life and his values. Starting at the age of 7, Abhi dabbled in martial arts and shooting before going on to learn cricket. He had an exceptional talent as a bowler and he capped his cricket career by playing for Karnataka state and South zone. Later in life he started long distance running and went on to run 5 full marathons. Abhi was training hard for a triathlon (while working in a full time job) and his dream was to ‘make it to the starting line of the Ironman’ - a dream that will forever remain a dream.
Abhi believed wholeheartedly in the power of sport and believed that every child should get the opportunity to play a sport. In our endeavour to honour and celebrate him and his life as well as continue his work of impacting young lives, we feel that it is only befitting that we create a sports scholarship in his name.
We are calling it the Abhi Mehta Sports for Life Scholarship
About the scholarship:
The scholarship will support young girls in Jharkhand who train as footballers. This coaching helps them build lifeskills, self confidence and courage to help break out of the cycle of poverty. We hope to make this an annual scholarship in support of these talented girls.
There are about 550 children who come to Yuwa sport and life skills session every year. 90% of their footballers are girls. It takes Rs 6,700 a month to support 1 girl. Your contribution will be used towards helping with expenses relating to football equipment, football coach's salary, transport to football classes, supplemental nutrition, transport to school, school rent, school staff salaries, school supplies, etc.
The scholarship is being channelised through Yuwa (www.yuwa-india.org), an organisation that works with girls - using football as a means to build character, confidence and courage. Abhi was following their work closely and we can think of no better way to honour his belief in sports as being transformative and life-changing.
The daughter of subsistence farmers, Kajal's family expected her to follow the same path as the rest of the women in her family: to drop out of school after 10th standard, get married, and begin her future as a housewife and mother. Both Kajal's parents also work as daily labourers on local construction sites when the family needs extra money. Kajal first tried playing football on a Yuwa team when she was about nine years old, on a makeshift football ground near her house and often with her younger sister tagging along with her. Her father was especially unhappy about his daughters running around and playing "a boy's game," but Kajal and her sister persisted and argued for their right to play. He grudgingly relented. Kajal quickly took advantage of all the Yuwa had to offer, eventually convincing her parents to allow her and her younger sister to join Yuwa School in 2017. Once enrolled in Yuwa School, Kajal quickly became known among the teachers for her insatiable curiosity--constantly asking questions, asking for extra homework, extra projects, and consuming library books. Although her family is still not actively supportive of Kajal's education, Kajal herself has big dreams for her future, is ferociously committed to her education, and is always one of the top students in her class. Despite sharing a smartphone with her family members and younger sister for remote learning this year, Kajal has continued to excel. She recently tied for first place in her age category for the Yuwa speech competition... and the other first place winner was Kajal's younger sister!
Divya, 7th Standard
Divya lives in a small village near the base of a large hill. Unlike many of her peers in Yuwa, Divya had family support for her right to an education from an early age. Her mother is an active organiser in her village and helps to distribute food rations. Her family runs a small grocery shop in their community. From an early age, Divya's parents knew that they wanted their daughters to receive a good education--but the local school was overcrowded and teachers were abusive and often absent. A quality education seemed out of reach. When Divya and her older sister started playing football with a Yuwa team near their house, her family was eager to learn about the opportunity to attend Yuwa School. Divya and her sister joined the school, and quickly began to thrive. Divya is outspoken--much like her mother!--and has a keen interest in social justice. She adds positive energy to every space she joins, whether it be the classroom or the football ground. Divya's mother is now a part of the Yuwa School Management Committee, and has contributed to helping other parents become more supportive. She has even helped to organise meetings in her village about how to ensure that Divya and the other girls from her community stay safe while walking to early morning football practice.