Reshma Kevate’s day used to start as soon as the first rays of the sun peeked over the horizon. She would quickly freshen up and take the family’s buffaloes out to graze. Spending time amidst the glorious expanse of meadows strewn with rosy pink flowers and golden yellow shrubs had become a part of her routine. But, today, instead of chasing cattle in the village of Mhaswad, the 22-year-old runs marathons. This was made possible by the Mann Deshi Champions programme. In the last two years, Reshma has participated and won many runs, including, the Pune International Marathon as well as Satara Hill Half Marathon in Maharashtra and the coveted Virginia State USA Championship Invitational (cross-country). Reshma is not the only one to have benefitted from Mann Deshi. The programme has trained and empowered more than 7,000 rural children across Maharashtra so far. Founded by Prabhat Sinha, the initiative focusses on creating opportunities for young boys and girls to play sports free of cost.
Prabhat spent most of his childhood around nomadic tribes in the remote village of Mhaswad. While his father was a farmer, his mother was engaged in empowering women in the locality by teaching them entrepreneurial and vocational skills. A high-spirited lad that he was, Prabhat attended classes in a small Marathi-medium school all morning and then made his way to work in the agricultural fields during dusk. Unlike many urban children, Prabhat’s growing up years were characterized by climbing trees, reveling in mud piles, jumping puddles of rainwater, and swimming in nearby lakes. However, he had no idea that these activities formed the basis for sports. When his mother, Chetna Gala Sinha, got selected for the Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program at Yale University, Connecticut, Prabhat too accompanied her to the United States. And, that was when he became aware of sporting events and competitions.
Though Prabhat initially took up a degree in science followed by an MA in Economics from Fergusson College, he went on to complete a course in Sports Management from Georgetown University. The 31-year-old is known to have organised many baseball camps, managed sponsorships for athletic events, and also conducted sports conferences as part of his work. In the year 2012, Prabhat decided to visit his hometown with the intention of increasing people’s awareness about sports and its benefits. So, he established the Mann Deshi Champions programme and began by converting his farmland into mud tracks with a view to encouraging children to play on them. After three years, he expedited his efforts in this direction. In 2017, Prabhat quit his job in the US and dedicated all his efforts to further transform the track into a full-fledged sporting academy with a large swimming pool, a 400-meter racetrack, separate fields for football and volleyball, a wrestling akhada, long jump pit as well as a 5,000 sq ft gym.
(Text Source: YourStory)
Tags: Prabhat Sinha | Mann Deshi Champions | Founder | Empower Rural Women | Sports Enthusiast | Sports Academy For Rural And Tribal Athletes