We report on how a scheme part-funded by the UK window industry is helping to bring rugby and opportunity to some of Delhi’s most deprived schools.
“You officially fall below the poverty line in India when you’re living off less than 52p a day. That’s the kind of poverty we’re talking about. It’s incredibly humbling”, says Alex Murphy, Sliders UK’s Head of Operations.
As Business Head of Fenesta Building Systems, India’s largest PVC-U window manufacturer, from 2013 to 2014 and member of the Corporate Management Board of Fenesta’s parent group, the chemicals giant, DCM Shriram, the former London Irish loose-head prop’s time India left a lasting impression on him.
Alex returns this summer as part of a pioneering programme funded by the Atlas Foundation to bring rugby – but also to drive academic achievement – in some of Delhi’s most deprived schools.
Founded by Jason Leonard, the Atlas Foundation provides a link between businesses looking to make a contribution as part of their CSR strategies and grassroots rugby worldwide as a funding organization.
It’s also developed a network of ‘Champions’ who work with projects around the world, providing leadership and support to development programmes.
“Atlas funds grassroots projects around the world that use rugby and education to raise children out of poverty and illiteracy”, explains Jason who made 114 appearances as prop for England.
He continues: “Rugby is a great game to bring people together and helps them believe they can achieve anything, especially as part of a team.”
Sliders UK has stepped up through Atlas, to fill a funding gap in the Delhi Hurricanes School Rugby Development Programme. Previously coached by Murphy during his time working in India, the club has claimed top spot in its national league, with 18 players progressing to the national team since 2004.
The club’s Schools Programme is currently working with 11 institutions, including an all-girls school, drawn from across some of the most impoverished parts of the city.
The scheme is built around the All Schools model set up in the UK by Jason Leonard and CEO of the Atlas Foundation, Sally Pettipher. “The results that we saw in the UK show that playing rugby increases academic achievement by around 12 per cent, through increased discipline and by being a part of a team, addressing lots of behavioral issues”, she explains.
Sally continues: “We first worked with Alex in 2013. He was interested in developing rugby in India as a sport and we had a shared interest in the social contribution that it could make, particularly in areas of poverty.
“What’s been created through the Delhi Hurricanes Schools Programme is a real achievement. We have 800 regular players, a 50/50 mix of boys and girls under the age of 16 including an all-girls school.”
As part of his visit this summer, Alex will work alongside three permanent schools’ coaches funded by Sliders UK and donations from Duraflex, through Atlas as part of it and the Delhi Hurricane’s outreach programme.
“We have got the funding in place now which is a real achievement but what we’re looking for is kit and equipment, because you can’t get it in India. So boots, gum-shields particularly mini and junior kit”, says Alex.
“We had a fantastic image of two of our junior teams in Delhi playing in donated end of season kits from Chesterfield and Notts, Lincs and Derby!” he adds.
Alex said: “What is so incredible is how far a relatively small amount of money can go through this scheme and the contribution that it can make to so many people. For £3,000 we’re able to fund three full time coaches who are working with schools and children throughout Delhi.”
“On behalf of the Delhi Hurricanes, Atlas and those children who are benefitting, I would like to say a big thank you to the industry for its support.”
Chairman of Sliders-UK, Ian Longbottom concludes: “This is a fantastic project making a real difference which is hugely appreciated. Sliders are delighted to participate and through Alex Murphy to be closely involved.”
*If you are able to support the Delhi Hurricanes Schools Development Programme through the donation of kit or know someone who can, please get in touch with Alex Murphy who can be contacted on 01772 698222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Atlas Foundation please visit www.theatlasfoundation.org.uk.
For more information on Sliders UK please email email@example.com