Mumbai, Apr 11: The Mumbai Indians have dedicated their next IPL match against Pune Warriors here on Saturday (April 12) to the underprivileged children of the metropolis as part of the team's initiative "Education For All".
Sachin Tendulkar termed the time he and his teammates spent with such children today as "very special". "This event was one of the best that I have attended because all these children made our afternoon really special. After having attended this event I can say there are some really bright children here who can make our nation proud and I wish you all the very best," said Tendulkar.
"I congratulate bhabhi (team owner Nita Ambani) for this initiative. I think it will make the difference and the direction we want to go in. It's fantastic. We will be playing a game on the 13th. Almost 11,000 children will be watching that and Mumbai Indians will play for them," the senior batsman said.
MI captain Ricky Ponting also hailed the initiative. "From the Mumbai Indians point of view and certainly from my point of view, it's been an emotional and uplifting sort of a day. To hear some of the great stories that have been coming out of this initiative holds the whole country in great stead for the future," said Ponting.
"Every one of these kids should be very proud of what they have done. Its not an easy thing to get up on stage and talk about yourself and talk about what you are doing, but every one from the Mumbai Indians today learnt a lot about you and learnt a lot about the programme.
"In two days time we will be playing for you guys and hopefully put on a good performance and we can win another game for you," the Australian added.
Nita Ambani said close to 8,000 underprivileged children would be coming to the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, which is a first in Indian sports, for the MI-PWI match.
Team mentor Anil Kumble praised the children and said,"I wish I had your confidence to speak up on stage. We will be playing for you, and hopefully, we will get a good victory on Saturday, so that all of you can be proud of Mumbai Indians. "I want to thank 'bhabhi' and Reliance Foundation (headed by Nita Ambani) for the wonderful effort in touching the lives of more than 15,000 children for education. I hope that the message that will be put across after Saturday will be reaching out to a lot more. This is what Mumbai Indians stands for and I am really proud to be a part of it."
"I want to thank the kids who came here today for teaching me a lesson that I have taken everything for granted and you guys have done wonders. Hope you continue what you have been doing and make the nation proud," said senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
The education initiative by the foundation was started in 2010 and so far it has touched the lives of 15,000 children.
Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga said, "I really enjoyed the few hours with you (kids) and we will try to play good cricket in the next match for you guys."