Fellow Since 2002
This profile was prepared when Matthew Spacie was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Matthew sees that recreational sports can teach children teamwork, values, and an appreciation for physical health and for achievement through hard work. He is bringing sports to children who live in urban neighborhoods and slums, children who would otherwise have few opportunities for outdoor play and for interacting with peers and adults from outside their closed, often oppressive, sphere. Matthew is introducing his programs–sports training camps, leagues, field trips–through existing citizen-led organizations, including 15 Mumbai-based children's organizations. He is also fostering partnerships that both allow coordinated volunteer involvement in the programs and build long-term support from corporate and individual donors. Matthew is encouraging municipalities to adopt policy that improves urban parks and unused playgrounds. Through all his work Matthew is enabling a shift from thinking about recreational sports as a waste of time to understanding its significance in allowing children to develop skills, confidence, and a sense of community. His close work with corporate partners has resulted in the construction of recreation centers and camps near larger cities. While his work to date has been in Mumbai, Matthew expects to introduce his programs in other Indian cities soon.