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Aussie cricketer inspiring Indian children
Many young men in India and Australia share a common dream - to play cricket for their country.


In the poorest parts of India, even buying shoes to wear on the cricket pitch can be out of reach for some children.

In one small community, an Australian coach is doing his best to make sure everyone gets a shot at the big time.

India correspondent Stephanie March reports from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.
Transcript
KESHA WEST, PRESENTER: Many young men in India and Australia share a common dream - to play cricket for their country.

But in the poorest parts of India, even buying shoes to wear on the cricket pitch can be out of reach for some children.

But now, in one small community, an Australian coach is doing his best to make sure everyone gets a shot at the big time.

India correspondent Stephanie March reports from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

(Footage of cricket match plays)

BRUCE ADAMS, BRUCE ADAMS CRICKET ACADEMY: Boys, get moving

STEPHANIE MARCH, REPORTER: On a hot dusty pitch in the heart of rural India, the visitors have just snared another scalp against the home town favourites Chhindwara.

The Indira Ghandi stadium has drawn a modest crowd, but there's one face on the boundary that stands out.

BRUCE ADAMS: Someone going to run a helmet out?

STEPHANIE MARCH: Six years ago Bruce Adams was coaching students in the north Indian state of Rajasthan when a friend suggested another place that could really use his help.

BRUCE ADAMS: It was obviously a very, very poor tribal area with thousands of enthusiastic and lovely kids who wanted to play cricket.

(Coaching children): It's got to rip, yeah? When you bowl it.

STEPHANIE MARCH: Since then, he has build one of India's biggest not for profit cricket academies.

BRUCE ADAMS: Well we have about 1,400 boys and girls who come to the academy. I got there six years ago there was not one boy playing state or divisional cricket. Now we’ve got many, many boys who are representing the state.

STEPHANIE MARCH: His dream: to allow the boys from this poor part of the India to live theirs.

KABIR, CRICKET ACADEMY STUDENT: Everyone hopes to play for national or international team. And same as I, I also want to play for India at high level and be the star of cricket.

BRUCE ADAMS (coaching): We start off with one, two, three, four.

STEPHANIE MARCH: When Bruce Adams first arrived, the players had virtually no facilities. No pads, no stumps; no gear whatsoever.

BRUCE ADAMS: We organised a trial match just to see what some of the talent was like, and there were four boys there sitting there padded up waiting to bat. I've gone up to one of the guys who spoke reasonable English and Hindi to tell his boys that they couldn't bat without shoes. They were barefoot. He's come back to me and said, "They don't have any shoes." And what they're waiting for was the outgoing batsmen to swap, to give them his shoes.

(Coaching): Great catch.

STEPHANIE MARCH: He’s spent hundreds of thousands of his own dollars keeping the academy going.

BRUCE ADAMS: Mums will know how long a white shirt lasts and how quickly boys’ feet grow and how quickly they grow out of a pair of white pants.

KABIR: Oh, it is just awesome. They started four or five years ago and the first time when we saw great coaches in Chhindwara. And they just gave us everything that a player needs and they improved us in every way, from physical batting, bowling, fielding, everything.

STEPHANIE MARCH: The academy is an Adams family affair. Bruce's 14 year old son Jack has been to Chhindwara several times to play and coach.

JACK ADAMS, CRICKETER AND COACH: If anything it's taught me how lucky I am and how lucky the majority of people in Australia are a lot better off than these boys.

STEPHANIE MARCH: The family's efforts have made Bruce something of a celebrity in this part of the world.

BRUCE ADAMS: Can we have two copies of each paper please?

STEPHANIE MARCH: The academy has caught attention of some very high profile people.

KAMAL NATH, PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS MINISTER: When Bruce first told me that he was thinking of this a thought it was kite flying, it will never happen, until it really happened.

STEPHANIE MARCH: Kamal Nath is the local MP and India's minister for parliamentary affairs.

KAMAL NATH: Bruce has done a fantastic job in training youngsters, especially youngsters who come from the poorest of the poor families who would never have had an opportunity even to buy a cricket bat.

STEPHANIE MARCH: The academy runs tournaments, coaching sessions and provides scholarships for student to play in Dehli and Australia.

It has the support of a number of high profile former cricketers from Australia and India, including sporting legend and 1983 World Cup team member Madan Lal.

MADAN LAL, FORMER WORLD CUP CRICKETER: I think Bruce has done a great job there. It takes a lot of time to make one or two international players. I think we're very sincere. Bruce is going every there. So one fine day I think we'll see that a Chhindwara boy will be playing for our country.

STEPHANIE MARCH: Like in so many parts of rural India, many of the families in Chhindwara are desperately poor. Cricket is not just something these kids do for fun, for some of them it could be a way to finally break the poverty cycle.

Even playing district cricket these boys could earn more than $100 Australian a match - a lot in a state where the average annual wage is $800.

But creating India's next Dhoni or Tendulkar is not Bruce's only aim.

BRUCE ADAMS: It's a false economy if we’re going to think that all of these boys are going to play first class cricket because it’s simply not going to happen. That's why we've got the education policy in.

STEPHANIE MARCH: That policy is that every child at the academy attends school, something that's rare in this poor part of rural India.

BRUCE ADAMS: There is a place for every child in a school in India. Unfortunately, some of their parents haven't been to school and they've felt that there's no need for my child to go to school. So we've dispelled that myth for a start.

STEPHANIE MARCH: If nothing else, he just wants these boys to get out of cricket what he has.

BRUCE ADAMS: Ninety per cent of the people that I've had long term associations with, who are friends, are all from the game of cricket. It most probably kept me out of a lot of trouble too. And you know I learnt discipline, I learnt team sport, respect, and just the camaraderie of playing the game.

STEPHANIE MARCH: And for young players like Kabir that's exactly what Bruce has taught him.

KABIR: He treats us like he knows us and we are from his family only. He understands everything. He meets our parents. He talks to them like family members. He treats everyone like equal and peacefully great. He's great. Bruce is great.
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