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Sometimes, when you are struggling, all you need is a stroke of inspiration and a reassuring hand on your shoulder. Ask the Mumbai Indians. They returned to India for the second leg of Pepsi IPL 2014, from a winless UAE sojourn. And when they set foot into their home, the Wankhede Stadium, their stroke of inspiration awaited them. The Result: Mumbai Indians (5 losses - 0 wins) beat Kings XI Punjab (5 wins - 0 losses) by five wickets.
The inspiration was provided by the 18,000 children who had engulfed the best part of the Wankhede Stadium with their enthusiastic cheers and their blue shirts. The match at the Wankhede Stadium on May 3, 2014 was a very special occasion in the history of sports in India, and its significance went beyond the realms of cricket; it was an occasion of social relevance as Mumbai Indians’ Education For All (EFA) initiative took a magical form – that of a sea of blue.
Continuing in its fifth year now, EFA has gained momentum as a national campaign supporting equal and rightful education in our society, and it took a leap forward when over 18,000 underprivileged children in the age group of seven to 14 years from various NGOs flocked the Wankhede.
Earlier, Mumbai Indians had flown nine underprivileged children to Dubai during the IPL’s UAE leg, as part of the first step for this season’s initiative. The children had the opportunity to meet and interact with their favourite cricket stars in the team and watch them in action at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
This initiative is led by Mrs. Nita M. Ambani, a passionate advocate for the cause of education. Mumbai Indians is one of the first teams to recognise the potential of using its global fan base to enhance awareness about a compelling social issue and has found support amongst its fans and sponsors for the cause. Every Mumbai Indians player and support staff is a passionate believer in this initiative and is committed to spread the message of ‘Education For All’.
The ‘Education for All’ initiative has been able to meaningfully impact over 50,000 underprivileged children from various NGOs engaged in supporting and imparting life skills to their respective wards. Mumbai Indians had invited 9,000 such children from the society for one of its home match on April 13, 2013 and had even dedicated its IPL victory to the cause – a feat documented in the Limca Book of Records.
Such an initiative requires massive logistical coordination. Mumbai Indians management deployed about 425 BEST and private buses for movement of children with about 2000 volunteers, apart from arranging one lakh food boxes and a control room to monitor and map all the coordination.