Here is a duo that uses sport to reach out to the less-privileged. Akila Kannadasan meets Thomas Abraham and V. Ranga Raja
When mechanical engineering students Thomas Abraham and V. Ranga Raja thought of ways to help those in need, their natural choice was sport. Thomas, a State-level tennis player and Ranga, a district-level basketball player, launched Radiant Sport, an initiative to make the less-privileged happy “by sports, through sports.”
The 21-year-olds, along with their team of 25 volunteers and sponsors, organise tournaments and use the money raised to hold sports events for children for whom participating in such activities is a privilege. They have held a basketball and a badminton tournament this year, for which participants had to pay a fee to register. “We set aside our savings, after meeting expenses,” says Thomas. This went to fund a charity event for children at the Indian Council of Children’s Welfare (ICCW), Shenoy Nagar.
It was a day they would never forget. “We held various events for children of different age groups,” says Ranga. Lemon-on-spoon race, cricket, volleyball… the volunteers saw the difference a day of sporting activities made to the kids, many of whom were orphans. “They were thrilled when we gave them medals and certificates,” adds Thomas. “For some kids, it was the first time they ever received a medal.”
Apart from holding sporting events, Thomas says they enjoy spending a day with children who are not as fortunate as them. “We played cricket and volleyball matches with the older boys at the ICCW,” he says. “They actually beat us.” The charity event taught the youngsters a lot. “We learnt that whatever happens, life has to go on,” says Ranga. “Some kids there do not have both parents. But they study, play and go on with their lives like any of us.”
The team uses Facebook to get sportspeople to register for their tournaments. But they do not promote their tournaments as charity events. Ranga says that they do not want to use sympathy to lure participants — apart from the organisers, only the volunteers are aware of the cause.
Ranga and Thomas ensure that these tournaments are held professionally — Jayasankar Menon, a former Indian basketball captain, was the chief guest for their basketball tournament held at Union Christian School, Chetpet, in September this year.
Radiant Sport has lots in the pipeline. Thomas says that they are willing to sponsor coaching for deprived children interested in sports. They hope to expand their activities to other cities to help as many less-privileged sports enthusiasts as possible.