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NE Warriors Beat FBI In IDRF "Cricket For A Cause"


(This article is sponsored by Masala Art)

On July 25th, NE Warriors scored a huge total to beat FBI (Full Blooded Indians) in the finals to win 11th annual IDRF “Cricket for a Cause” tournament held in Nashua (NH), Hudson (NH) and Andover (MA).  46 teams participated in this six-a-side tournament, helping IDRF’s Boston chapter raise more than $9,000. The tournament was sponsored by Hope foundation of Concord, Avco Consulting Inc of Worcester. Vijay Nalamada, founder of Avco Consulting graced the prize distribution ceremony as guest of honor and exhorted the organizers and participants to continue their efforts towards helping the poor and needy through events like this.

The beginnings

Early 2001 IDRF (India Development and Relief Fund) was wrapping up a very successful fundraising drive for rehabilitation of Gujarat earthquake victims and was looking to create a platform for continued fundraising activities. Then in summer of 2001, the idea of “Cricket for a Cause” was conceived by the IDRF Boston Team as that platform to raise funds. Little did the team know at the time that the “Cricket for a Cause” fundraiser would go on to complete a decade and raise more than $120,000 towards the cause dear to them – funding development projects that empower poor and needy of India.

What started in a small way with 27 teams participating in the 1st IDRF cricket tournament in June of 2001 raising $2600 became an annual ritual and a flagship event around which IDRF Boston team built a strong volunteer team and an even stronger base of donors and supporters who identified themselves with the cause of IDRF. This cricket tournament model was replicated and followed by several cricket enthusiasts in New England area who launched their own tournaments.

“I have been playing IDRF tournaments since 2002. Over the years, there have been many cricket tournaments but IDRF has been one of a kind, especially with the cause associated to it. Besides the great charity it does, IDRF has also been instrumental in bringing all these teams together and pretty much establishing a tennis ball cricket network. I think it’s fair to say that this is one tournament we all want to win, considering everything it stands for” says Saqib, captain of a team called ‘Nashua Spearheads’, a regular at IDRF tournaments.

How does it work?

A team of 6 pays a fee of $140 and plays 6-over games in round robin stage, then proceeds through several knock-out rounds. Games are played with hard tennis balls and are played in a fun environment while maintaining a competitive edge. Most teams brave the hot and humid New England weather in July to put up their best show. A team from UMass Lowell captained by Sabeeh, which won the tournament 5 times, has never missed the tournament since its inception. On an average 60-70 teams have participated every year, with 2003 being the peak with 82 teams. While most of the participants are students from area universities, working professionals also enthusiastically participate in the tournament.

It's hard work!

The tournament is usually conducted over two weekends at multiple venues– Nashua, Hudson and Andover. With 10 hours of play each day and the threat of rain ever looming, organizers have often had to pray for rain to stay away and contend with numerous scheduling requests from participants. Each game takes an hour and needs two umpires, a scorer and an overall field coordinator. Over the years, countless well-wishers of IDRF and cricket enthusiasts have generously helped the core IDRF volunteer team with this onerous task of successfully conducting the tournament. 4 volunteers for every game of an hour, 70 odd games every year, 10 years of cricket tournaments gives you an idea of immense hard work put in by the volunteers to make this all happen.

Contribution of sponsors

Right from the first tournament, several Indo-American businesses have whole-heartedly supported this venture in terms of sponsorship. Hope foundation of Concord and Leader Bank, a premier financial services organization run by Sushil Tuli, have sponsored the tournament half a dozen times each, thereby contributing greatly to funds raised through the tournaments over the years. Several area restaurants including Hot Breads of Woburn and Patel Brothers of Waltham have chipped in with gift certificates which are given to winners and best performers.

Several prominent business and community leaders have graced the prize distribution ceremonies to encourage and applaud the efforts of organizers and participants. Ranjani and Anil Saigal editors of ‘Lokvani’, a popular community portal, Rakesh Pandey and Jugnu Jain, co-founders of social entrepreneurship forum at TiE-Boston, Dayanand Allapur, Vice President of Patni Computers, Narendra Popat and Sushil Tuli at various times have encouraged the participants to continue their efforts to further the noble cause championed by IDRF. Many of them singled out the concept of using sports for bringing the community together and generating funds to run projects focused on development of underprivileged.

Even as the cricket lovers in New England have enjoyed this tournament down the years, they have helped make a telling contribution towards projects run by IDRF's partner NGOs in India. The projects range from residential hostels for boys and girls to hospitals to vocational training centers empowering underprivileged women.

Ekalavya Ashram of Andhra Pradesh used the funds provided by IDRF in 2002 for construction of an additional floor in its residential school for tribal children. While Bhatke Vimukta Vikas Pratisthan in Solapur, Maharashtra, used the funds to set up a vocational training institute aiming to develop self-employment skills of people of nomadic tribes and Vanavasi Ashram Trust in Wayanad, Kerala to support boarding, lodging, and educational expenses of tribal children.

Ved Mandir of Jammu used IDRF funds for the construction of 'Balika Niketan', an orphanage for girls who lost their parents to terrorism and violence in J&K and the Vanavasi Ashram Trust for the construction of 'Ten-bedded Hospital' to support the needs of tribals in Wayanad district in Kerala. NASA Foundation, Gujarat (National Sanitation & Environment Improvement) used the funds to improve public hygiene by providing clean sanitation facilities in two schools. Another project supported is run by HOPE(Hungry & Oppressed’s Participation for Emancipation) of Orissa to setup a "Rural Trade School" to provide training to rural youth, women and weaker community to enable them to be self-reliant.

About IDRF

IDRF is an all-voluntary, tax-exempt U.S. public charity that is operated with near-zero overhead. It channels all contributions to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) having impeccable track records of humanitarian service and managed by dedicated volunteers and thus applies 100 percent of all contributions towards the integral development of underprivileged and the needy. For more information, please visit us on web at http://www.idrf.org, contact us at 978-640-0530 or email idrfboston@yahoo.com.

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