Cricket for Underprivileged Kids

Shyam Bhatia will receive the Mother Teresa Award for channeling his passion for the game into a global charity initiative

…Cricket has taught me three critical things: discipline, fairness and commitment. They are the foundation of all my interactions.

Shyam Bhatia went to his first cricket match at the age of six; was playing first-class cricket at 18; started the ‘Shyam Bhatia Cricket Awards’ at 55 and, at 62, launched a global charity to take cricket to disadvantaged children. Today the 68 year old Dubai based steel baron is one of the biggest patrons of the game, and has been selected for the 2012 Mother Teresa International Award. The award recognizes the achievements of those who beautify the world. Bhatia will travel to Calcutta at the end of April to receive the “humbling” award, which he says is “one of the greatest honours” he has ever received.

Bhatia’s dedication to cricket goes much beyond a past time– it’s his fuel for life. He attributes his success in business and in life to lessons he learned from playing the game. “With a straight bat you can never have any problems,” he reasoned. “You can build up your innings in whatever you do and come back.”

Cricket For Care distributes simple cricket kits containing: cricket balls, bats, helmets, wicket-keeping gloves, protective gears – to underprivileged children in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Nepal. Playing the game keeps them from getting into trouble and as was in his case, teaches important lessons. “Children play the game and build their character, discipline, team spirit, leadership and most importantly learn to bat with a straight bat…while playing and in life.” Bhatia even sends kits to non-cricket playing countries such as Thailand and Indonesia and after the tsunami in Japan he was one of the first to lend his support by sending 250 kits.

Bhatia has also turned his lifelong love of cricket into a no expense spared museum in a building adjacent to his Jumeirah home. He also set up the Shyam Bhatia Cricket Awards in 1998 as a modest event to recognize the UAE’s local cricketers. It is now an annual fixture in the cricketing calendar, drawing international cricket stars.

In 2003, Bhatia published a book, “Portraits of the Game, Cricketing Greats Recall Their Magic Moments,” a collection of memorable experiences of renowned international cricket players. Though the coffee table book hasn’t been published for general circulation, companies like Deutsche Bank, Emirates Airlines and Standard Chartered Bank have placed orders. Bhatia donates all the proceeds from these sales to cricket authorities around the world to buy kits for children in their respective countries.

“I have not made any money from cricket and never intend to. All I want to do is give back to the game as much as I possibly can. Because cricket has taught me three critical things: discipline, fairness and commitment. They are the foundation of all my interactions, whether at home or at work,” Shyam underlines.