“Here’s Mr.Jaggi Nadig’s story, Director of “The Sports School”, India’s first integrated school for sports and academics that encourages young sports enthusiasts and supports professional athletes.
How did you get started on your philanthropy journey?
I am from Bengaluru. I studied in Bengaluru & Hassan. I joined the IT industry and worked as a consultant in Infosys Technologies. I have also worked for Toyota in Jakarta. I was in Chicago from 1998 to 2008 and hold an MBA from Kellogg School of Management – Northwestern University. Later, I moved to Singapore, where I worked as the CEO of Nadathur Fareast Pte Ltd. It was founded by Nadathur Sarangapani Raghavan, one of the seven founders of Infosys Technologies. I helped to grow our portfolio & investments in south-east Asia. I mainly focused on Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. Last year, in 2019, I moved back to Bangalore.
My philanthropy journey started when I was in Chicago. I was part of a team that set up a cricket academy that conducted weekend cricket training for kids. I always enjoyed hanging around and playing with them.
So, when I moved to Singapore, I took up training childrenmore seriously and that’s where I got certified. I am an ICC certified cricket coach. I started working with the Singapore Cricket Academy. I coach the Singapore under-17 cricket team.
Growing up, I played a lot of badminton and cricket. I always wanted to do something for children, in the field of sports. That’s the reason I invested in “The Sports School”.
It is built on a 25-acre land on Kanakapura road, Bengaluru and has state-of-the-art facilities in 5 sports including cricket and badminton. It is certified by FIFA and the NBA to host international games. . It has 7 tennis courts. Robin Uthappa is one of our advisors for Cricket. Rohan Bopanna is part of the tennis program. We have other strong partners who help us in running all the programs. We have 90 children studying with us at ‘The Sports School’. Some of the kids come from poor families.
The other initiative I have started is called “Feeding Bangalore”. The idea was to provide well-balanced nutritious food to the poor affected by Covid-19.
I wanted to help such people and so I started distributing food made in my kitchen. But then I realized that I couldn’t distribute beyond Koramangala, where I live. So as soon as the first lockdown was lifted, I contacted one of my high school classmates. He runs a provision store as well as a catering business. I told him my intention of helping others and he joined my initiative. On May 8th, Friday, we met a canteen-owner and he agreed to work with us. By Sunday, we decided on the areas to distribute the food packets and the canteen also got ready to prepare food. That Monday, we started distributing food packets.
Please tell us more about your success on this journey?
At “The Sports School” we help children learn life skills through sports. Sports teaches them discipline, teamwork, recovery after a loss, etc. The benefits are innumerable. In the traditional learning system today, kids spend over 6-7 hours in the classroom and spend just 1 hour on sports. We have flipped that model.
We provide world-class facilities, and kids can play about 4-6 hours of sports every day. We follow the CBSE curriculum, and academics is equally important. The kids’ study for about 4 hours every day. Thus we offer an educational curriculum that rather than just including sports, has academics built around sports.
Some students who stay in the hostel, get personal attention from the teachers who also stay in the hostel. Since any sports person needs to go to someplace to play sports, go to the gym to exercise, connect with a nutritionist for dietary advice, a physiotherapist for medical help, and a psychiatrist for mental counseling; we aim to address all these needs in our school. I am training to be a yoga coach as well. So we will also include this in the future.
‘The Sports School’ has 2 tracks. The first track is for children who just like sports and want to be involved in the field of sports. Students who opt for this track can go on to become a nutritionist, massage therapist, data analyst, handle marketing operations for a sports organization, etc. The second track is for children who intend to become a professional sportsperson.
We have designed the program based on inputs given by Robin Uthappa-cricket player, Rohan Bopanna-tennis player, and Anup Sridhar-badminton player. They have played their game at the highest level and have a lot of experience in their respective fields.
So we have experts in each vertical to run the programs. Identifying these people, getting them to run the programs, and seeing the results is an amazing journey.
We opened this school in June 2019. In November 2019, there was an All India Men’s Tennis Championship, and our student Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha won India’s championship.
The results we observed in the first 6 months validates our model. Our 2 key features are the quality of coaching and the integration of various facilities. The youngest student in our school is in the 4th grade and the oldest is in 1st year B.com. 15 children are being sponsored right now as per their performance evaluation and economic needs. The kind of passion these kids show on the court is just incredible.
Our “Feeding Bangalore” Initiative is also doing well. We feel good about it, although there is a lot more that can be done. This was my first experience and I wanted to do it on my own. So during the first couple of weeks, we did it without any support and got hands-on experience. Later, I asked some of my friends to contribute to this cause and we raised a good amount of money for it.
My friend, who I mentioned earlier, was my classmate in National High School. So we started distributing food packets to the staff of our school. Then we went to Sree Sambhavnath Jain Bhawan near Gandhi Bazaar. This was our first delivery point.
We distribute well- balanced nutritious food packets. A different meal is served each day of the week. It is usually a combination of rice and vegetables, enriched with protein. Bisi Bele Bath and Chitranna are some of the dishes which are distributed.
We wanted to hand out only one packet to one person. Since our food packet is very nutritious and weighs about 350 grams, many people wanted more than one packet. We observed that some people who had already collected the packet from the first delivery point came running to the second point to collect it again. They said that our food is really good. That was enough appreciation for the hard work we put in.
Initially, a lot of affected people came for food packets. We spoke with many of them. Most of them were daily workers from the F&B industry, where they clean canteens, chopped vegetables, or cooked. Now since the malls and some restaurants have opened up, many have gone back to work, which is some relief.
It has been 32+ days since we started, and we have distributed 16000+ packets already. We have been delivering in Basavanagudi, Gandhi Bazaar, K R Market, and Hosakerehalli.
What are your future plans?
At “The Sports School”, soon we’ll be offering a huge scholarship program in tennis. We already have students who play for the BFC (Bengaluru Football Club), one of our partners. We have partnered with the NBA (National Basketball Association) and they are going to come on board this year too, as we will also be running a basketball program.
While delivering food packets, we also met with about 300 kids in one area. All of them were energetic and ambitious. Now, I have data of about 125 kids who live there.
We want to help these kids in the long term. We want all our efforts and time to make an impact on the life of these kids. So we have taken a space in the slum and we are going to convert it into a library. It will have books and sports equipment which can be rented. We are planning to set up a computer lab there as well. Since I have played a lot of badminton and have done cricket coaching as well, I will keep checking to spot a talented kid in these sports. I hope to help them achieve their dreams.
I want the children to be independent, educated, and possess life skills, such as communication, negotiation, making friends, overcoming hurdles, and facing challenges.
So I am planning to take the responsibility of about 10-20 kids and guide them throughout their childhood till they become successful in their life. I will take care of their education and help them hone their life skills.
Nadathur Estates runs its own foundation. It runs schools, breast cancer research institutes, and some environment and conservation programs as well. We have separate teams who work for these programs.
I have also worked directly with some of their initiatives, like “Mitti Café”. It aims to empower the differently-abled. They go to campuses of various companies like Infosys and set up cafes there. They serve high-quality food with a lot of care and passion. They take pride in their work as they are earning out of it. It’s an amazing model which started with 1 café in Hubli and now it has grown to 10-12 cafes.
Because of Covid-19, they are not operational currently. So now, all their staff has joined and they work together in the central kitchen. They are handing out around 3,000 food packets daily.
I am also working with “Guardians of Dreams”. There are a couple of more initiatives, where I am planning to work for children who are affected by various illnesses.
How can someone work with you or join you?
We do a lot of voluntary work. Any like-minded person can come and join us. We have to distribute books, laptops, and sports equipment to many kids. So, people can donate money for this initiative. If anyone has some skills to engage the kids and give their time for this, they are most welcome.
Story compiled by: Nimisha Jaiswal
Edited by: Vasudha Veeranna