In his 12 years at Societe Generale, Bangalore, Keshava Basappa can’t remember an experience which would top his participation in the charity rugby matches at Societe Generale in 2019.
His first experience with rugby was in 2015, when his team took the title in Bangalore. In 2019, a few things were different. The team had a chance to play for charity matches in Hong Kong which would help raise funds for the children of the Magic Bus Foundation, who would get to attend Rugby World Cup 2019 matches in Japan. Team Deja Vu was doing well during practice sessions, despite not being acquainted before. Match day turned out to be a massive win for team Deja Vu.
Once team Déjà Vu qualified for the matches in Hong Kong, the next crucial step arose – fundraising. With just one month left to raise funds for eight children of the Magic Bus Foundation, the team was met with quite a challenge – fundraising with an audience that wasn’t aware of the sport or the support it provides to children from marginilised backgrounds. But no matter, Keshava proactively reached out to his peers, designed and sent out emails to his network and gave out his personal number so they could transfer money to his ‘e-wallet’ account. He would then transfer the funds at the end of each day, helping team Déjà Vu reach their fundraising goals, gradually.
The fundraising was going well, the team would meet on one of the 14 floors each day and start talking about the game, and how the Magic Bus India program is helping children through sports for development. Keshava was popular on the floor, having spent 12 years, he had made a lot of friends. These well-wishers happily contributed, especially after hearing of the greater goal which the game is fulfilling through the charity matches.
Unfortunately, the team’s fundraising efforts had to stop in between. Floods had hit many parts of India and the team wanted to be sensitive while talking about the charity matches scheduled for Hong Kong. It was then that Keshava suggested something slightly outrageous – auctioning his seat to someone who can help the team raise the remaining funds (about Euro 1000). He was more keen to see that the children of NGO partner Magic Bus Foundation get to have a seamless experience, one that they will cherish for life.
The team rallied together and managed to raise the necessary funds and play in Hong Kong. The matches were physically challenging to Keshava, yet he always kept a smile on his face because to him, there was no bigger win that getting to send the children to Japan to witness Rugby World Cup matches! The format of the game also made rugby an inclusive sport – touch rugby allowed Keshava to participate despite his injuries. The team in Hong Kong ensured that all the 210 employees were comfortable during their stay. To Keshava this experience felt like he was an international rugby star!
The beauty of the game is it impacts the lives of those who play it, in more ways than one. It offers a sense of purpose, to be a part of a team and work together towards a meaningful goal. Whether it’s about scoring a winning-try or helping children from marginilised backgrounds experience the joy of the game for themselves, rugby continues to positively impact anyone who comes in touch with it.