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Story

The Siddis are an Indo-African community who migrated to India over 400 years ago living mostly in Karnataka and scattered across Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Facing racism and being neglected since 400 years and since independence, they have confined themselves into forest areas in the coastal belt of India. They choose to stay away from mainstream society to avoid facing racism and ignorance. There are over 40,000 Siddis residing in Karnataka alone. Only in 2003, they received recognition as tribals, before which they weren’t even recognised prohibiting them from availing any government services. 

In 1987, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) started special areas program to train Siddis in athletics. The Siddis were relying on sports to train and represent India and also as pathway towards their integration into the mainstream Indian society. But unfortunately, despite the Special ares games being a success, by the start of 1990’s - SAI stopped the program. SAI restarted the program to train the Siddis and also build a sports academy for them. But the plan was scrapped and the Siddis were left alone and ignored again. Incidentally, the present decade is declared by United Nations’ as International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). In 2016, we have restarted the program to train them in athletics along with support of local district association and communities.

After 2 years of extensive research with tribals of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka and working with over 1800 children. We are creating India's first ecosystem for athletics in Uttra Karnataka district of Karnataka. The region has naturally athletic communities such as Siddi community, who migrated as African slaves to India almost 400 years ago. We have scientifically researched on the Siddi community at Centre for Sports Science, Medicine and Research institute in Manipal. 

We have visited Kenya and have recently just come back from Jamaica. We are currently working closely with coaches from Jamaica. At our centre in Northern Karnataka, we identify children from age of 8-12 years through village level athletic meets, involving the district association. The athletes are selected scientifically by our scouts and sports scientists and are supported in athletics training - including daily nutrition, coaching, equipment and education.  

We have been appreciated by various national and international media channels like BBC, NHK and Economic Times, Hindu and Indian Express.

We have fully fledged team including sports scientists and have partnerships at both community level and elite training institutes, to support these athletes. With just over 6 months of training, 90% of our athletes qualified for state meet; one of our athlete Nayana ended the season as India's 15th fastest 400 mtr sprinter; With just 2 months of professional training, Ravikiran finished with his season best 10.8 secs in 100 mtrs.

We are working with a singular motto of ensuring that for the first time in Indian history, we qualify for all the athletic events in Olympics and compete at the highest level.

Organisers
Bridges of Sports Foundation

Bridges of Sports Foundation

Beneficiary Charity

Nitsh

Nitsh

Organiser

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