Category Archives: Corporate Social Responsibility

My Evolution as a Developmental Coach

Today happens to be my Mom’s birthday and the month in which Mothers are celebrated, among other national and international awareness activities (such as Mental Health Awareness Month). To readers of my blog, I hope you have a few minutes to read this post.

I’ve made a couple of references to my parents on this blog largely because I know it is thanks to them and many others, that I am able to stay healthy, volunteer my time with causes I care about and explore new places and things.

The video above is a culmination of my journey in squash. I have enjoyed every moment of playing, coaching and volunteering in squash at various levels, as well as being a team member on winning and losing teams.

I plan to stay physically active with and without squash, as it definitely keeps me well and balanced. Thanks, Mom and Happy Birthday!

 

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Sports Memorabilia: Is at an excessive love of sport?

If you happen to live in the Greater Boston and are looking for a way to inspire your son or daughter with a dose of Boston sports history, then request a museum pass from your local library. Thanks to the Memorial Hall Library Membership program (my local library) a free entry pass to The Sports Museum in Boston made it possible for a summer visit.

Museum Pass made available through Library Membership Program at Memorial Hall Library.

Museum Pass made available through Library Membership Program at Memorial Hall Library, Andover, Massachusetts.

The Sports Museum was a new discovery for me given that one has been traveling from country to country observing sport for development and peace practices. What I found unique about The Sports Museum was that it provided a greater awareness of the four major American sports – football, baseball, basketball and hockey – which were all highlighted in some way during the tour. Our young tour guide was very knowledgable and had lots of great stories about Boston sports personalities.

Highly values sports memorabilia in The Sports Museum, Boston, Massachusetts.

Sports memorabilia in The Sports Museum, Boston, Massachusetts from July, 2016 visit Photo credit: T. Mohammed.

Furthermore, since the professionalization and specialization of sports in the United States, there are dedicated “Hall of Fame” for sports such as tennis and squash (both in the New England area too). Such devotion and allocation of resources to sport does not typically happen in low-income countries since there are more pressing needs like water, sanitation, electricity, agricultural development and housing, for example. Is this excessive love of sport in high-income countries or should low-income countries also strive for such development?

This is an ongoing debate within international development circles on whether sport is a “cost-effective” social and economic development tool in low-income countries. The 2016 Olympics in Rio, has an opportunity to leave a positive legacy for Latin America and the rest of the world. The 2012 London Olympics’s International Inspiration certainly did for 12 million children in 20 low-income countries.

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Marking a Milestone for Khelshala

On 9th August, 2014, Khelshala celebrated its 5th anniversary in Chandigarh, India. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the event, but was celebrating in spirit with colleagues. Since I was not in Chandigarh to report on what took place, the India-based team are putting together a post-event synopsis.

Once again credit goes to Coach Bajwa and the Khelshala team for reaching this milestone. While there is still a long way to go, there continues to be significant achievements made by the Khelshala children as well as the program itself. For those interested in the details, these can be found in the Khelshala newsletter(s).

While I am thrilled to be part of Khelshala, this is a good time for self-reflection for one’s own journey. I have used this summer to review, assess and plan for further career development. After speaking with various career counselors about the field of social enterprise, I am reminded by a friend’s comment that “it would be good to do something that pays.”

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Appreciating SquashBusters and the Future of Urban Squash

Thanks to Tom Hodgson, a veteran teacher of philosophy and coach at Phillips Academy Andover (also a friend and squash colleague), he invited me to the SquashBusters Lawrence end-of-year celebration at Brooks School. SquashBusters Lawrence students, parents, staff, coaches and volunteers had fun with free-play, eating a pot-luck dinner and recognizing outstanding performers for the 2013-14 year.

SquashBusters Lawrence Staff recognizing students for 2013-14 achievements.

SquashBusters Lawrence Staff recognizing students for 2013-14 achievements.

As an admirer and follower of SquashBusters, it was great to be in the company of Greg Zaff, CEO and Founder and his team to share developments about Khelshala in India as well as Kidsquash in Cambridge, MA. Given the National Urban Squash and Education Association’s international outreach to countries such as Colombia, South Africa and India (including Khelshala) – there is a lot of potential in terms of grant making, student-exchanges and North-South as well as South-South collaboration.

Though squash is not yet an Olympic sport, programs such as SquashBusters and the like  – when done right with capable staff and adequate resources – produce balanced, active and socially responsible citizens. Surely this is a win-win for all stakeholders!

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Khelshala Celebrated International Sport for Development and Peace Day

On April 6, 2014 – Khelshala celebrated their first initiative towards the United Nations International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. For an overview, we encourage you to visit the Khel-Mel event with the theme, “Play Life-Sports for a Healthy Life”.

All age groups were welcomed to the event to participate whole heartedly and take part in lifetime sports, such as dance, aerobics, yoga, athletics, squash, tennis, badminton and table-tennis, which were made available for the day. The Khelshala and Majra children joined hands to commence a day of great importance not only for the Khelshala community, but also for the sports society as a whole. The sound of the Dhols, kicked off the Khelshala march in which a group of very enthusiastic local community members arrived to participate in the walk towards the Khel-Mel venue.

Preceding the march, the dance activity conducted by Mr. Sameer Mahajan, Director of Rockstar Academy, lifted the spirits of the children and energized them for a day packed with fun activities. Along with explaining the importance of dance and aerobics in maintaining health and wellbeing of oneself, he began with a warm up before teaching the children chorography he had planned for the session. The dance session was followed by yoga and meditation conducted by Pinki Jha explaining how yoga and meditation can make their minds sharp, peaceful and also how it can enhance their day to day well being, if practiced regularly. In addition, various athletic activities including hurdles and cone drills for agility over a 50m track were conducted by coaches from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Also, many other individual games like squash, tennis, badminton, and table-tennis were a part of the overall day and were managed by friends and volunteers. Our very own Khelshala coach, Mr. Anil Rathee, also directed a tennis tournament. Khelshala children also performed a street play. This was greatly enjoyed by everybody, especially by the group of St. John’s School children in attendance. Khel-Mel activities ended with a grand finale of tug of war competition.

To conclude the proceedings a small prize giving ceremony was hosted by Mr. Bajwa, Founder and Trustee of Khelshala. He also shared with everyone on how sport can help them to stay fit and healthy. The event coverage was carried out by the esteemed Doordarshan channel, and Langar (community lunch) was served to all attending, courtesy of Village Majra Panchayat.

We were truly delighted to have celebrated this United Nations initiative and hope it served the vision and mission of spreading awareness among the community promoting development and peace. We look forward to a bigger and better event next year. We hope to see you in 2015.

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Reconnecting, Re-learning and Reimagining Through Sport Tourism

As mentioned earlier, I visited Manchester, UK during my last squash season at Concord Academy. Thanks to Roshan Abraham, my aunt, I had great pleasure in doing a Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour. Despite the Abraham family being ardent Liverpool Football Club supporters, they were kind to allow me to re-imagine childhood football fantasies at one of the most popular football clubs in the world.

Visiting the world renowned, Manchester United Football Club – November 2013.

Visiting the world renowned, Manchester United Football Club – November 2013.

Like many, as a young boy playing soccer in the United Arab Emirates during the 1980s and attending a British primary school, one could not help but be engrossed by the English Premier League. Ideally, it would have been great to watch a match live at Old Trafford, but the schedule did not allow it. Interestingly the World Rugby Championships were being held at the Stadium during that time.

Learning about the history, tradition and operations of Manchester United was fascinating. From a coaching perspective, it was exciting to set foot in the stadium of of its longest serving Manager – Sir Alex Ferguson who recently signed a long-term teaching contract at Harvard Business School. Though Manchester United has struggled since his departure, it was well worth the visit.

In addition, while in Manchester, I also visited United’s rival club Manchester City Football Club which also has an impressive stadium. I was unaware that Manchester City had a sponsorship connection to Abu Dhabi’s Eithad Airways. Overall, visiting all these sporting sites was like going to Mecca, in terms of scale but without the religious significance. Although some Manchester United and Manchester City fans may disagree.

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Kidsquash Finishes 9th Season with Motivated Students

During the 2013-14 season 20 students between the ages of 8 to 17 from 12 towns in the Greater Boston area participated in 21 hours of instructional squash clinics at the Murr Squash Center at Harvard University. Majority of the students were beginners who were new to the game and eager to learn a new sport.

The 9th season of Kidsquash season ran from October to March and covered various squash shots, etiquette, refereeing, marking, match play and concluded with an end of year tournament. Students made significant progress with their game, as demonstrated in the end of year tournament where they were divided into 2 round robin groups and some had long rallies – which they could not do at the start of the season. All 10 students in the tournament were able to receive prizes courtesy of Head, leaving them motivated for next season.

2014 Kidsquash Tournament Players and Coaches

2014 Kidsquash Tournament Players and Coaches

Making Kidsquash happen is a team effort so, many thanks to Coach Bajwa, Founder of Kidsquash – though not visible at clinics his guidance and presence was much appreciated; Coaches – Hameed, Luke and Liam – thanks for your teaching and coaching throughout the season; Parents – many thanks for your generosity and bringing your children to the Murr Squash Center almost every week and Sponors – US Squash, Mass Squash, Harvard University, Head and Whole Foods Market.

For transparency and sustainability purposes here are some important figures to consider from the 2013-14 season. For the 21 hours of instruction provided to 20 students, Kidsquash raised $3,144.  At approximately $150 per Kidsquash student, parents received $2100 of coaching value (had they received private, commercial instruction the average hourly rate would be $100 from qualified coaches). Hopefully, the value created through the Kidsquash program, will be sustained in the future by sponsors, donors and friends.

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Thanking Well Wishers and Donors for Khelshala Service Trip

The Youtube video link below is a big thank you to all who donated and provided encouragement for my summer in India. I may have forgotten to thank someone so, please forgive me if I missed you.

My hope is that by sharing this Youtube video it will educate, inspire and motivate others who feel moved to get involved or make a contribution to this initiative.

Keep Squashing!

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Appreciating My Khelshala Service Trip Experience

I recently completed my 2+ months service trip in Chandigarh at Khelshala. While I have tried to keep you updated of the highlights along the way, I find myself a bit emotional after being so welcomed by the Khelshala family – Founders, Board members, staff, children, volunteers and well wishers.

Satinder Bajwa, Founder & Trustee of Khelshala presenting a “thank you” gift to Khelshala Secretary.

Satinder Bajwa, Founder & Trustee of Khelshala presenting a “thank you” gift to Khelshala Secretary.

It was truly an honor and privilege to help advance the mission of Khelshala while interacting with various stakeholders in India and abroad. My heartfelt thanks to Satinder Bajwa for encouraging me to make the journey and many thanks to my family and friends for donating to help fund this trip. I thought about each of you along the way.  This made me appreciate the experience even more.

We are not done though. We have set Khelshala on a higher path and so there is a lot more to do take the organization where it deserves to be. I will continue to stay connected to the Khelshala mission, but encourage others who read this to get involved as I hope you will find as much joy and satisfaction as I have experienced. Be strong!

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Community Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education, International Development, Leadership, Private Public Partnerships, Professional Development, Recreation, Squash, Stakeholder Engagement, Volunteering, Youth Development, Youth Sport

Launching the Khelshala Computer Learning Center

Another objective during my service trip was to set up the Khelshala Computer Learning Center. I am pleased to report today that 10 Khelshala students under the guidance of Ms. Rajvinder, the new Khelshala computer teacher have now joined the digital age. During their first class, the students learned elementary computing concepts.

This achievement was largely due to the synergistic teamwork between Khelshala and the State Bank of India. Thanks to a grant from the State Bank of India, Khelshala was able to purchase 5 desktops and 3 laptops. Moreover, Satinder Bajwa’s (Founder and Trustree of Khelshala) visionary leadership made the project happen.

First Class of students at the Khelshala Computer Learning Center donated by State Bank of India.

First Class of students at the Khelshala Computer Learning Center donated by State Bank of India.

Prem Chander, the Khelshala squash coach who was originally trained as an electrician, did all the wiring of electrical sockets in the Center, while my role was to provide support with anything that needed to get done. Among other things, this ranged from painting the Center, supervising delivery of equipment, designing signage and interviewing computer teachers.

Personally, this was a very satisfying project to work on given my prior professional experiences in applying information and communications technologies to the challenges of sustainable development. To have played a small part in the country of my origin was equally gratifying. The lesson learned from this experience is that one should not discard one’s early professional experiences as they can help inform future ones. Cheers to learning and growth!

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