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For 14-year-old Rupesh Borade it was a dream come true. On June 5, the orphan living in Chembur Children’s Home (CCH), since he was seven-year-old, flew to London for a 20-day cricket coaching program with selected players, from across the globe.
He was the only Indian this year to get selected and the only inmate from the children’s home to have travelled abroad for cricket coaching at the Dharma School of London.
As he flicked the bat with ease, barely having to move his legs, and the ball zoomed in a clear arc, his coach Ajinkya Kamble said, “After London, he has become more disciplined, more focused and hard working towards cricket.” According to the children living at the shelter home, right-handed Borade has an in-born gift to play cricket. “He is an all-rounder,” a seven-year-old boy at the home said.
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Borade was admitted in CCH at the age of seven by his aunt, shortly after the death of his parents. He has only stepped out of the high-walled compound of the children’s home either during annual picnics or for inter-school cricket tournaments. Cricket was a sport for time pass until in 2013, former Mumbai cricketer Sahil Kukreja agreed to give coaching to children interested in playing the sport.
Of the over 150 admitted with children home, currently 32 are getting coached. Borade was spotted by Kukreja six months ago during his practice session. “I had no passport, no visa. Had never thought of going out. He sponsored my entire trip,” Borade said, adding, “The grounds in London are amazing. It was a different cricketing experience there.”
In London, he played eight matches. In the seven overs he bowled, he took four wickets, conceded just 12 runs and had two maiden overs.
Apart from being a good spinner, Borade claims he has improved the square-cut, pull shot and cover drive. He is now preparing for the upcoming Kanga League, the monsoon tournament conducted by Mumbai Cricket Association.
He admits he wanted to become an engineer until the children’s home got a full-time coach two years ago. Now, he never misses a match on the tiny television set available for the children. “My idol is Sachin Tendulkar,” he smiles, as several other kids around him nod in unison. During summer vacations, he played for over eight hours at a stretch which has now reduced to three hours to accommodate school’s work.
According to Satish Bansode, Deputy Chief Executive officer of the three children home in Mumbai, this is the first time an inmate has been sent abroad for training.
“We have sent differently abled kids for Para games. Now, we are thinking of sending more deserving kids for such sponsored trips,” he said.