ShyamBhatia Mumbai
Dubai businessman Shyam Bhatia with former Indian captain Dilip Vengsarkar and other former stars after distributing cricket kits to underprivileged children in Mumbai, at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, India. Image Credit: Supplied

Shyam Bhatia, a Dubai-based businessman, lives his passion for cricket through Cricket For Care Foundation. Launched in 2007, the foundation aims to provide cricket equipment, facilities and coaching to underprivileged children worldwide. And Bhatia has been doing just.

Last week, he was in India to continue the foundation’s work. Bhatia donated 40 kits to 40 schools in Mumbai to help underprivileged students nurture their cricketing skills. “This will primarily benefit children from the slums. Each kit contains three sets of playing equipment. Good enough for a school,” Bhatia told Gulf News from Mumbai.

The function at the Cricket Club of India, Brabourne Stadium, was attended by former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar and other former India players such as Karsan Ghavri, Dinesh Karthik, Vinod Kambli, Sanjay Bangar, Salil Ankola and Abhishek Nayar.

“I want to congratulate Shyam Bhatia for this generosity,” former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar told the Times of India, referring to Bhatia’s kit distribution.

Bhatia said he chose Mumbai this time since it’s the heart of Indian cricket. Many players from the city have gone on to play international cricket for India, he added.

Sport is one of the best ways to instil critical developmental disciplines in young children, he said. Referring to his Cricket For Care Foundation initiative, Bhatia said: “What I want to give children is integrity, honesty, dignity, truth, courage, sportsmanship, and burning desire to be [an] excellent human.”

What I want to give children is integrity, honesty, dignity, truth, courage, sportsmanship, and burning desire to be [an] excellent human.

- Shyam Bhatia, Dubai businessman and cricket enthusiast

The foundation has made donations in over 20 countries worldwide, including Sri Lanka, South Africa and Kenya. Non-cricket playing countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Japan were also beneficiaries. Over the next few months, the foundation will distribute kits in South Africa, Orissa and Jammu-Kashmir in India and Nepal.

Bhatia said his love for cricket goes beyond passion. “It’s a way of life,” he added. The cricket enthusiast has helped develop cricket in the UAE by sponsoring tournaments. The annual Shyam Bhatia Awards recognises the achievements of cricketers in the local leagues. Over the years, stalwarts Clive Lloyd, Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan, Michael Holding, Ian Chappell, Ravi Shastri, Wasim Akram, Andrew Flintoff, Kapil Dev, Kumara Sangakkara and others have been chief guests.

The foundation also runs the Shyam Bhatia Cricket For Care Foundation facility in Jaddaf, Dubai. It also has a cricket academy that has produced talented players. ‘‘While Cricket For Care will play a big role in maintaining the facility, my plan is to engage Emirati children for at least one coaching session a week and also help organise sessions for the children of determination. Not much work has been done in this area so far,” Bhatia said on his website.

Bhatia also hosts a cricket museum which contains an extensive collection of cricketing memorabilia like autographed bats, balls, rare books, art, photos, ties, caps, jackets and other equipment.