Mumbai Indians fans planning to throng the Wankhede Stadium for their first home match of the Indian Premier League 7 will have to put their plans on hold.
MI owner Nita Ambani watches the Mumbai Indians vs Pune Warriors game with kids at the Wankhede Stadium last year. Pic/Atul Kamble
The franchise is planning to block virtually all seats for their 'Education For All' initiative which is spearheaded by team owner Nita Ambani. After returning from the United Arab Emirates at the end of the month, MI will host their first home match on May 3 against Kings XI Punjab.
The plan is to get about 20,000 underprivileged kids from various NGOs across the city, Navi Mumbai and Pune. The rest of the seats will be occupied by the franchise's guests, sponsors and the Mumbai Cricket Association.
It can be recalled, Mumbai Indians carried out a similar initiative last year when they had brought about 11,000 underprivileged kids to the venue. "We are looking at dedicating the May 3 match to the 'Education For All' cause," the team's spokesperson told mid-day yesterday.
It is quite natural that fans may be disappointed, but the MI spokesperson added: "Being the first match of the India leg, we understand that Mumbai Indians fans are looking forward to the game.
We are thankful to Mumbai for wholeheartedly supporting the initiative last year. And we are looking forward to their support this year too. This initiative is a lifetime opportunity for the underprivileged kids to watch their stars, live on the ground, and be inspired by the spirit the teams will showcase during the match."
The 'Education For All' initiative has been in place since 2010. Since then they have been getting 200 to 300 underprivileged kids for a home match.
Sachin Tendulkar, who was recently announced as Mumbai Indians' icon, has also expressed his desire to be a part of the 'Education For All'. Mumbai Indians was one of the first IPL teams to recognise the potential of using its huge fan base to enhance awareness about an important social issue.