CHENNAI: Twenty-two-year-old Porselvan from Nochikuppam, always dreamed of building a career in sports. “I started playing cricket when I was in class 5. We used to gather on the beach and play cricket for hours. From playing in college tournaments to university matches, I’ve done it all. But to build a career in the sport wasn’t easy for me — the son of a Metro Water Depot in charge,” sighs the BBA graduate who currently works as a cricket coach at a private school in the city. “For three years after my graduation, I didn’t get a job. So, I took up the job as a coach...my passion keeps me going.”
A few months ago, when Porselvan was at the crossroads about his future, an announcement by city-based Radiance Realty Developers, came as a blessing in disguise. They announced the launch of their non-profit entity Varun Arakattalai in April. “A lot of NGOs come to our area and make promises to provide us with opportunities, but in vain.
But Varun Arakattalai organised sports events in the first few weeks and took an interest in providing opportunities to the many talented youngsters looking for a platform. They will also pick talented players and groom them. This helps youngsters focus on the good things and will deter them from taking the wrong life path,” he says.
Porselvan is one of the thousands who have so far benefited from Varun Arakattalai, a social initiative that focuses on creating a community where passionate people thrive, excel and lead collaborative efforts to solve society’s imperative challenges. The objective is to achieve this through sport, helping them build livelihoods or setting up businesses.
After conducting a study of the needs and challenges of the community, Varun Arakattalai chose Pattinapakkam to execute its initial welfare activities in April 2019. They used sports as an instrument to promote health, education, and empowerment. “The power of sports to transform communities, alter mindsets and break down barriers has long been known, but framing this power into a sustainable solution is lacking. Sports has not been receiving the attention it deserves with respect to social investments and philanthropy in Chennai,” says Varun Manian, MD of Radiance Realty Developers, adding that sports has always helped him deal with life’s ups and downs.
His early childhood experiences shaped him into a socially responsible adult. “My parents have been an exemplary example for my sister and me, and are the inspiration for Varun Arakattalai. As children, we watched our parents supporting the less fortunate. In fact, all our support staff’s children were put through an English medium school by them,” he recalls. “This instilled in us a sense of caring for the community around us. I have always been a strong believer of generating social change and inclusion through sports. I hope to create bridges where boundaries usually exist.”
Since its inception, Varun Arakattalai has seen over 1,000 consistent participants just in the sporting events conducted in Mylapore. Over 30,000 people have been directly impacted by their community activities, including their contribution in rebuilding crucial infrastructure such as gym and schools. “We believe in measuring our impact as we go. Mylapore is familiar to us as we have grown up here. Hence, we are closely working with people of the area to understand their needs and how we can bridge that gap,” shares Varun.
To reach 75,000 people by December 2019 with sporting events and rebuilding infrastructure, and to expand the figure further by 2020 are some of the primary objectives. Their next-in-line target areas include the rebuilding of an unfinished temple, refurbishing gyms with equipment and helping schools in and around Mylapore with essential material. “We would like to further this cause to all the communities around Mylapore. It would be an achievement to make Mylapore a model constituency,” he says.