Co-Founder, Hi5 Youth Foundation (hi5youthfoundation.com)
tell us briefly about you:
Just like most women, I have worn many hats
in my entire life. Having had lot of experience as a fulltime mother, homemaker
I can definitely say giving attention to your children when they are young is
an absolute sacrifice one has to make. Slowly and steadily, I returned back to
graduate school in USA when my husband was doing his stint with his company’s
overseas operations and few startups there. When graduate school ended, started
work as a curriculum designer and instructor
– again with flexible hours, so that I could see myself spending quality
time with my boys. As parents, we did our best to see them blossom into
responsible world-class citizens and let our children follow their dream.
sports. Our boys while they were young tried all sports and finally settled
with playing basketball during their school years. Over the years, my husband
and I took up golf and played a lot when children left the nest. Besides
academics, it was driving them to tournaments, games and school related
activities. Also, all our birthdays were centered on watching NBA games in the
stadium as a family.
volunteering at the community level. Started off as a classroom volunteer when
the children were young in Elementary school to basketball games during their
high school years. Moved on to spear heading bone marrow drive at the community
level. At every step, there was phenomenal learning before moving back to
Mumbai and starting Hi5.
enough basketball talent in Mumbai and vicinity especially girls who otherwise
would have been deprived of their opportunity. Basketball is mostly played in
private schools and clubs and these underprivileged children may not have the
resources or ability to compete if Hi5 had not existed. Giving them this edge
energizes me to scale further and give many more opportunities.
is the woman who inspires you the most and why?
Serena Williams. She is from a humble African-American
background, her father raised her tough, she broke all barriers in the
conservative white tennis circuit and she emerged the best. She is a perfect
role model to all girls. A young mother
now, she is back in tennis in full force. Girls playing sports are the most
confident, have huge self-esteem, and they become leaders in their own career
and PV Sindhu. They have broken the barriers in their own conservative cultural
community and have emerged leaders in sports.
are you celebrating this year International Day?
Our organization has few women employees. We
are trying our best to raise this ratio soon. However, we are in equal numbers
when it comes to recruiting children in our basketball program.
employees with a small gift, personal hand written notes on how they are so
special in this organization and the women have the power to take the
organization to the next level
(14 centers), though I may visit few centers to see my Hi5 children but not all
– the Hi5 sports coordinators do a good job of praising girls on how valuable
they are to the society and to the basketball community.
is the most important message you want to send out to all women around the
world on this occasion?
Volunteer! Volunteer! Volunteer! Women can
make huge impact in all social causes. Women have empathy and power to make
change. Make a difference in the life of every underprivileged child. More than
just writing check, get involved in a child’s life and see them smile when you
made a difference. There is nothing more valuable than seeing a child smile. After
all, they are the future citizens of the world.
emerges as a leader. Today’s top Women CEO’s in the world have played sports in
their lifetime. I would encourage all parents to give their girls an
opportunity to play competitive sports; this will definitely allow them to
follow their dream.
according to you is ‘woman empowerment’?
Woman empowerment is all about giving girls/
women in your community to move away from gender biases and make them feel and
sense equality in whatever they do.
day), there were 200 girls in the stadium playing basketball for 10 hours of the
day competing – every girl showed her confidence, grit, and above all their
talent. The crowd was getting excited as few games were going over time, the
girls were real fighters on the field. For me, this is “women empowerment”.
would you say are the main challenges facing woman at present in India?
do you want to see yourself in the next 5 years?
I want to see that we scale up the Hi5 model
first to interior Maharashtra to 7-8 districts and then to other parts of India
(about 5-6 states), so that many children around the country get this
opportunity to play and succeed in life. I see talent in most tribal children –
therefore whatever expansion we do we will cater to the tribal community. They
are still left behind and more alternative paths are needed to bring them on
par with the rest of the population. In sports, they can definitely fill the
void. Tribal girls need sports more than anybody. To spread Hi5 and get more
girls involved in basketball in the country is my current goal.