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The hidden gems of Grassroots sports in India: Celebrating the winners SSF Grassroots awards

Simply Sport foundation hosted the 1st annual grassroots awards night in December 2022. The event aimed to celebrate the achievements in India's grassroots sports ecosystem. In total, five awards were awarded in various categories, along with the launch of the SSF white paper on 'Women in Sports: Breaking barrier in Sports' and a new initiative, 'Simply Periods'. The five winners of the awards come from various parts of India and uniquely promote grassroots sports. In this article, we are giving you a peek into their background and how they impact India's sports ecosystem.

1. Grassroots Sports Women's achievement of the year 2022 - Mrida Education & Welfare Society

The Mrida Education & Welfare Society is a non-profit organization focusing on education and welfare initiatives in India. Mrida was founded by Priya Nadkarni & in the year 2012.

Priya Nadkarni was part of the team for PRADAN's grassroots program for the tribal youth in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh. While implementing the programs, she realized that standardized education for such youths (from impoverished rural families) is crippling because it took away their basic ability to observe and be aware of their environment, minds, and bodies.

The foundation helps improve access to education through various programs and projects, especially for underprivileged children. Over the past decade, the Mrida foundation has significantly impacted rural communities across India. Its programs have benefited thousands of people and contributed to improved living standards, health, and economic opportunities. Various organizations have recognized the foundation's efforts, and it has received awards and recognition for its innovative approach to sustainable rural development.

Mrida's impact in numbers:

400 -Children reached from impoverished tribal families with the grassroots intervention programs.

400 - Study Hours achieved by students of Riverside Natural school learning and practising Robotics & Programming

100% - Grade Levels achieved in middle and high school despite the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

2000+- Footballing Hours have been achieved by players of Narmada Valley Football Academy.

The 1st Girls U-17 team has won the championship in Madhya Pradesh (MP) and has proceeded to compete in the National Subroto Cup in Delhi. They triumphed over Indore (7-0), Gwalior (19-0), Bhopal (10-0), and Narmada Puram penalties (6-5) to represent MP. Brijkumari and Ambika were recognized as standout players, and Lalita was named the Best Striker.

2. Best Grassroots Academy of the year 2022 - The Yacht Club of Hyderabad Foundation

The Yacht Club of Hyderabad Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to promote Sailing and boating as a sport and recreational activity in Hyderabad, India. YCH foundation was founded by Suheim Sheikh & in the year 2009 with the intent of creating infrastructure for all to access, given that Sailing has been part of Hyderabad and Hussain Sagar for more than a century. YCH works to provide access to sailing and boating facilities and training programs for people of all ages.

They focus on developing youth and children through Sailing; by providing them with opportunities to learn and grow through Sailing, they are also promoting environmental awareness and conservation. And by focusing on the development of youth and children, they are helping to promote environmental awareness and conservation among the next generation. The YCH has experienced significant growth, starting with just 4 kids and 3 boats and now boasting a fleet of over 150 boats and serving around 150 children.

YCH's impact in numbers:

Since its inception in 2009, YCH has instructed over 800 children in Sailing, mostly from underprivileged backgrounds. The club has produced 6 national champions, 4 state champions, 68 medalists, 30 international competitors, and 10 students accepted into Armed forces training schools. Additionally, 19 boys have been admitted to Army and Navy Boys Sports Companies and 2 directly into the Navy as of May 14, 2021, after being trained at YCH.

3. Best Grassroots League of the year 2022 - Brahmaputra Volleyball League

The Brahmaputra Volleyball League (BVL) is a professional volleyball league based in the Indian state of Assam. It is organized by the Brahmaputra Volleyball Association (BVA) to promote the sport of volleyball in the region and provide a platform for local players to showcase their skills and compete at a high level.

BVL is the first Grassroots level volleyball league which started in 2020 during the pandemic, with a single-minded focus on making volleyball a game accessible to all the children in our villages. It is the brainchild of Abhijeet Bhattacharya, former captain of the Indian Volleyball team, who has represented India in 100-plus matches in 22 tournaments in the international arena.

BVL's area of work is primarily focused on organizing and promoting the professional league, which features teams from various cities and towns across Assam. The league runs for several weeks and features both men's and women's teams. The league also includes various activities, such as coaching clinics, talent identification programs and youth development programs, aimed at promoting the sport of volleyball at the grassroots level.

BVL is helping to identify and develop the next generation of volleyball players in the region.

BVL's impact in numbers:

BVL is having a positive impact on the promotion and development of volleyball in the region. 94 Villages 28 districts,209 teams, 450+ matches. The league is attracting a large number of participants and spectators, and it is helping to raise the profile of the sport in Assam. The league is also helping to create opportunities for local players to pursue careers in volleyball and to represent the state and country at the national and international levels.

4. Sports Non-profit of the year 2022 - Aahan Foundation

Aahan Foundation for Social Change is a non-profit organization founded by Rashmi Tiwari based in India that works to promote social change and empower marginalized communities. They provide education and training, especially for children and women, and improve marginalized communities' economic and social conditions through various initiatives such as skill development, sports, healthcare, and community development.

Their work includes a wide range of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting social change and empowering marginalized communities. These include education and training programs for children and women, as well as programs aimed at improving the economic and social conditions of marginalized communities. They also focus on providing healthcare services and raising awareness about various health issues and working to improve the standard of living of the communities they serve.

Aahan's impact in numbers: Sports training is a critical component of Aahan’s intervention for girl empowerment. Their sports training program has successfully trained girls in sports and built a strong community of girls united by their passion for playing. Aahan helps girls access coaches and sports kits and equips them to compete at a local, state, and international level. They train around 150 girls from various ages in Doti and Jonha in Ranchi.

5. Best Professional Club of the year 2022 - Kodagu Football Club

Kodagu FC is a professional Football team, having its roots in Kodagu. It is the only team outside of Bangalore to represent in the Bangalore Super Division, which is considered the top league of the state. The team was established under the Subbayas Centre for Humanity and Excellence Trust and groomed at the INS sports Centre in Kodagu.

The team came to being after a tragedy in the family of Mr & Mrs. Ravi Somaiah, who lost their son Naren Subbaya at the age of 20. The family decided to keep his memory alive and channel their grief into positive action. Naren was an aspiring footballer, and his brother Ponnappa decided to work with other kids to help them reach higher levels of the sport. The family established the Subbaya’s Center for Humanity and Excellence Trust and started the INS sports center.

It took the team 6 years to make their foray into the Bangalore 3rd/C Division, and in their first outing, they finished as runners-up. They were then called to participate in the Super Division, where they put up an impressive performance in their first season, finishing mid-table and creating some notable upsets.

KodaguFc's impact in numbers: In their second Super Division season, players from Kodagu FC made it into the state teams for the National Games and Santosh Trophy. Many players from the academy have been groomed and placed in different levels of the sport and earned scholarships into elite teams. The team has a clear 15-year plan to reach the top league of the country and is working towards it by implementing a grassroots program to reach 250 kids by the end of the decade. With continued hard work and dedication, the team aims to scale up to the ISL or any top league in the country.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 awards. This is just a small bunch and there are many such hidden gems in India working in the grassroots space to promote and develop sports in India. Efforts like theirs need support from the outside world to amplify their impact and be sustainable. That is why we have partnered with such initiatives to see sporting success. You can play a small part in their quest to excel. Let's join hands together in supporting grassroots sports -

About Simply Sport

Simply Sport is a sports policy research & development organization based out of India. Simply Sport’s vision is to promote sports as an effective tool for the development of the nation. It focuses on policy research, grassroots development and the use of technology in sports. To subscribe to Simply Sports Newsletters, Research & Articles, please write to You can follow Simply Sport on the Twitter handle @_SimplySport for more sports-related content.

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