Since 2011, Decathlon India has been working with two associations, Khelo Rugby and Terre Indica, to promote rugby-playing among young children from underprivileged communities. I've always believed in the power of sport in children's education, particularly for those from problem areas. For me it's a real driver of social integration and employability. As a Decathlon store manager trainer, I wanted to build closer relations with these two associations, which work locally in the shanty towns of Calcutta.
The Khelo Rugby project is aimed at children as well as young adults, from the slums or underprivileged communities. Playing rugby, which is central to the project, enabled them to develop skills and become aware of fundamental values. But that's not all. We helped them to gain self-confidence so they can become determined and perseverant adults. They might be the Decathlon teammates of tomorrow.
Over 1,500 children (of which 40% are young girls), from 33 different communities, now play rugby thanks to the Khelo Rugby project. We are proud of them, 80% of them continued with their education.
Beyond the sports aspect, Decathlon provides these motivated young people with a springboard. Indeed, 21 of them have been hired as teammates and 11 became interns. Around twenty children were able to take part in the "live my life" experience at the Howrah store, in order to familiarise themselves with the company's daily activities.
My ambition is for Decathlon to hire a hundred or so young graduates from this project, in the next five years. Thanks to the Khelo Rugby and Terra Indica project, many youngsters have joined the company. They develop their self-confidence, their personality and other behavioural skills through sport. We offer them the chance of a better future, whether in sport, education or employment.
Story told by Suresh Ravichandran, Decathlon store manager trainer in East India.