Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022
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NGOs Show The Way As India Leads World Rugby In Sustainable Development

Rugby India has been able to spread the game far and wide. Women have taken to the sport more than men as NGOs keep changing the lives of the downtrodden

Game On Photograph by Rugby India

Saifullah Khan was a self-confessed “bully” in his teenage years, often getting into physical violence to show off his masculinity. “I was an aggressive and deviant teenager with severe anger issues…bullying other students, often getting into physical violence and not giving much heed to what my family or teachers used to say,” Khan, 24, says. That was until he discovered rugby, till then an alien game to most north  Indians, played by strapping White men and occasionally by the hero of a Bollywood flick (remember Shahrukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge). The sport changed Khan’s outlook towards life. “I never knew the cure of all these complexities could ever be a game of rugby,” he tells Outlook. And it’s through rugby that Khan is changing the lives of people living in urban slums in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area; Khan runs an NGO called Yellow Streets.

India has embraced rugby, once considered an elite sport, to emerge as the world number 1, surpassing Japan in terms of the game’s reach at the grassroots level. In a country where cricket is a religion and football has its fair share of followers, rugby’s penetration presents a wonderful story. For those who play the game, rugby is a metaphor for life itself—like most sports, it has the ability to channelise anger, grief and pain into positive energy. Sporting success can easily be quantified but when sport plays a role of a life-changer, the measure is very different. And how this vigorous sport is making a powerful impact on the lives of the downtrodden has made the world sit up and take notice.

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