By Daniel Hunter
Millions of disadvantaged children in London and across the world are already benefiting from the sporting legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said, as he met Indian youngsters who are being helped out of a life of poverty through a pioneering charity in Mumbai.
As part of his five-day trip to India, the Mayor visited the Magic Bus project, which uses trained mentors and sports to nurture young people with education and training. The project, which plays a direct role in delivering a legacy for Indian youngsters following the 2012 Games, hosted the Mayor for a sports session with children taking part in the programme.
During his visit the Mayor was joined by England batsman Kevin Pietersen, fresh from the team's Test victory in Mumbai, and rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio, who both helped him hand over sets of cricketing equipment including balls, bats and pads. The kit was donated by the Lord’s Taverners, a charity which focuses on bringing youth cricket to disadvantaged areas in London.
Through the Mayor’s multi-million pound sports legacy programme, investment in cricket in London has already benefited thousands of young people across thecapital. The Legacy Fund has trained more than 1,000 people to become cricket coaches to support the development of tomorrow’s star players, while funding worth more than £150,000 has been dedicated to improve facilities at six sports clubs and colleges in London. More than £180,000 has been awarded to the Hit the Top programme, which has established 32 new cricket clubs for young people with disabilities.
The Magic Bus project has played an integral role in building a lasting sporting legacy from the 2012 Games in India. The project was chosen to help deliver LOCOG’s International Inspiration programme, which aims to ensure all children in India have the chance to play sport in their schools and communities. The International Inspiration programme has so far reached more than 2.7 million Indian children.
“Sports legacy was always at the heart of London 2012, and it’s amazing to see the transformative effect the Games are already having on children’s lives, not just in London but across the world," Boris said.
“Simply by increasing young people’s access to something as basic and instinctive as a game of cricket, we can put them on a path towards a healthier lifestyle and better education and training.
"Cricket is a hugely popular sport in India and England of course, and so it is particularly fitting that we are celebrating the Magic Bus right in the middle of the current Test series between our two countries.
“The Magic Bus project is doing a fantastic job in steering India’s youngsters out of poverty, while my Legacy Fund is helping increase access to sport right across the capital.”
Magic Bus CEO Matthew Spacie MBE said: “The Mayor's visit has highlighted Magic Bus' work with children living in poverty in India.
“Through our mentoring and sports programme we are enabling children, young people and their communities to change their lives, improve their health and education and move beyond poverty.”
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