Conceived in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum in February 2009, and partly inspired by the film Slumdog Millionaire, Project Front Foot (PFF) is the product of a chance meeting, and an impromptu net, with a bunch of slum kids. In essence, a Kit 4 Kids campaign, PFF has two distinct phases: the first to publicise the project and collect secondhand cricket kit in the UK; the second to get the kit to Mumbai and then set up and run a series of coaching clinics for the slum children.
A message from my friend Vic Mills, who established Project Front Foot:
Just a few pictures to tell the story so far. The bottom line of which is rain, rain and sadly more rain. An unprecedented late monsoon has delayed the start to our new season by a month or more. It may even be as late as mid-November before we get to use the square and outfield. To make good after the deluge five lorry loads of top soil were deposited on the outfield. These were painstakingly barrowed to the square and then raked for debris.
Grass seed has still to be sown on the square. Once done, the cricket club secretary has assured me that we should be able to play in around a fortnight. We had hoped to hold fielding drills on the outfield, but thunderstorms last week have left this flooded in parts. Indeed, any more rain and the ground may well become tidal. Eight lorry loads of soil have then to be dropped on the outfield and rolled for a day. So still much to be done.
In the meantime, I’ve written a seven-month coaching plan, busied myself with unpacking, collecting and sorting kit, posted a daily blog, and held PFF registration mornings at the Dharavi Community Centre.
Given that the 180 kilos of kit brought over is far in excess of what we need for the Dharavi children, three bags will be going interstate: an Australian friend is starting a sister programme to PFF in Jaipur, one bag will go there; another will head two hours north of Mumbai to disadvantaged children in a small town courtesy of a friend to the project here in Matunga; and I’ll be taking a bag with me on Thursday to a village school west of Mumbai.
The full unadulterated version of the trip – railways, food, loos, temple life and much, much more – can be found by going to www.projectfrontfoot.org and clicking on the blog icon on the Home Page. So now we wait for the rain to stop, the humidity to become fractionally more bearable, and the chanting below me here at the temple to hopefully take a time out for an hour or two.
All good wishes