Beyond the Rim: A sporting saga

An unusual sight of dozens of girls from the neighbouring slums tryingtheir hand at basketball greeted those who made it early enough to theOrions Sports Club at Third Block Jayanagar Sports Complex inBangalore in the summer weekends just gone by.
Unaware of the attention they drew, the kids enjoyed themselves on court, learning not only basic basketball skills but also life-skills such as handling feelings, interpersonal communication, co-operation and team-work, empathy, stress management and decision making.
It was one man’s dream to use sport programmes to encourage the healthy physical, social and emotional development of disadvantagedchildren. Erstwhile basketball player CB Rammohan’s pet project,Beyond the Rim, took wing and strengthened the communities by translating the best values of sport into opportunities to promotedevelopment and health.
Beyond the Rim sets itself the agenda of assessing the applicabilityof sport in the development programmes; source, orient, train and deploy volunteers/professionals from the sporting fraternity in these programmes; and develop a body of knowledge that would contribute to this interface,” Rammohan, 29, says.
After completing his MA (Social Work) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, he went back to Chennai to resume his duties at Customs but the social service bug had bitten him. He conceived Beyond the Rim and experimented with the idea at St Anne’s School in Kilpauk before setting up base in Bangalore where he now works as Manager in an HR consultancy.
Rammohan is aware that there are a number of factors that affect the growth of children in slum communities in and around the sprawling Jayanagar locality. “Gender inequity, low quality of parenting, low level of education, child labour, exposure to anti-social behaviour, sexual abuse, child marriage, economic and social marginalisation…I could go on and on,” he says. “It must be the more or less the samescenario elsewhere in India.”
Through its weekend programmes, Beyond the Rim sought to address the child’s right to play, impart essential lifeskills and infuse sustainable values through team sport and achieve the social inclusionof the marginalised using sport as the platform. Encouraged by the success, Rammohan is close to making the Beyond the Rim experience adaily routine for these children and many others too.
He found NGOs like Stree Jagruti Samiti, Prathiba Poshak and Sathi as his partners in realising his dream. While the first named works with adolescent girls and working children, the second supports the academically inclined from the socio-economic with scholarships and the third has a good record of finding and restoring street or run-away children to their families.
Talk to him about independence and Rammohan tends to get wistful. “At the risk of sounding un-patriotic, I feel we need to wake up from the delusional notions of independence,” he says. “We have been blessed enough to be standing on the shoulders of giants – from freedom fighters, both violent and non-violent to moral and thought leaders – and it is important to take our quantum leap from there. Any true fighter in any field will know that the biggest demons one needs to overcome are from within. We now know what Gandhi was talking aboutwhen he said ‘Nobody can take away your self-respect if you don’t give it to them‘.”
Indeed, Rammohan must be among India’s most independent people, trying to reach the fruits of freedom to less privileged folk without expectation of reward or recognition. “I was the happiest when one weekend, as many as eight children from the more affluent backgrounds, came to the court to play with the children from the slums. Why, a couple of them even brought shoes that no longer fit them and gave them away to the less privileged,” he says. “I could not have asked for more in terms of social integration.”

1 comment for “Beyond the Rim: A sporting saga

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