Team Japan did not make a big splash at the FIFA World Cup 2014, but their fans Blue Samurai captured the imaginations of world over. For those of us who are still not familiar with Blue Samurai, these are the fans of the Japanese football team. Whenever and Wherever Japan plays, these fans go to support their team like any other countries fans. But what sets them apart is what they do after the match is over. After every match, the Blue Samurai clean up the entire stadium irrespective of whether their team wins or loses. This activity of the Blue Samurai has endeared them to various different venues where they have cleaned up after their team and also helped project Japan as a country with a passion for cleaning.
Now, switch forward to Indian Prime Minister Modiji’s Swach Bharat campaign and imagine the role sports and sports fans can play to help clean up India. Over the past decade mainly due to success of IPL, franchise sports is taking over India. Now we have IPL, Hockey League, Kabaddi League and Football League. Each of these leagues have franchises which are owned by national icons and top industrialists. Each of these groups also have started to build a legion of fans in their local region and beyond. If only, some of these franchises can do what the Blue Samurai has done it would be a shot in the arm to Prime Ministers Swach Bharat campaign.
Imagine if the IPL Franchise that I support Chennai Super Kings start a campaign which goes like this: “Garbage Podade, Whistle Podu!!” during their ad blitzkreig before every IPL and CL T20. Then they follow up with a clean up of stadiums after the matches. Given the kind of public that follows IPL including youngsters, kids and families, this would be the easiest way to spread the cleanliness message. Add to it the festive mood at these events, this would also make this whole task of cleaning up a joyous team activity and something that families, kids and youths will take back with them.
Finally, as sports is something that starts from a very early stage of our life and goes on to stick with us all through the lives, it is a great tool to incorporate discipline and ethics into life. In Japan, during the school sports days, the parents are supposed to stay back and clean up the school playgrounds after the event. A similar initiative in India would be another great way to push the Swach Bharat campaign. In Japan, it is the parents who teach the kids during this event to clean up. In India, the story might be slightly reversed with parents learning from kids during these events. But either way, this will help increase the cleanliness education and remove the stigma associated with cleaning up which a lot of economically advanced families in India feel.
So let’s go for it… “Garbage Podade (Don’t throw), Whistle Podu!!”