A passionate university athlete himself, Shah Rukh Khan aims to revive sports in the youth of India via NDTV's latest initiative – the Toyota University Cricket Championship. The initiative is backed by the Association of Indian Universities and the Board of Control for Cricket in India to nurture and promote budding cricketers.
"I am really happy the BCCI, the AIU and the HRD Ministry are coming together for this cause and creating this platform for sports. Sports excite me and I feel it's not just a great leveller but a great teacher as well," said SRK, the UCC brand ambassador.
With cricket being the most widespread sport in India, played in every nook and corner of the country, the UCC aims to take college-level cricket to a new high. The Baadshah of Bollywood recollects his time as a college sportsman and talks how UCC can help budding cricketers.
"I have played in college and that is the time when you have maximum energy and you don’t know where to put that energy. However, if you are not led properly you can go wavered. Although parents and coaches are there to guide you but sports gives you that outlet to express yourself.
"So a platform like this will spur students to do their best in sports. I know as a young sportsperson the lack of opportunity can bring doubts in one’s mind whether or not to pursue sports," added the 47-year-old superstar.
Shah Rukh was upbeat on the prospect of seeing young cricketers on live television and how exposure through media will bring the best out of cricketers:
"Just the fact that this tournament is going to be on television will create the spark in those players, who were on the threshold of giving up on sports. Once a University student is seen playing on TV, and his parents, friends and neighbours watching him will really encourage everybody to not just play but follow this tournament as well," he said.
Along with the on-field cricket action, fans can look forward to musical performances, great food, spectator competitions and the Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner feels the University too can come into limelight with the UCC.
"It is awesome to see that talent for sports is coming from a University will give uplift the institution as well. Just by virtue of sports, the University, be it lesser known one, will gain a lot through grants and aids and other means. I am personally happy that Jamia has qualified from North Zone as I studied there," the actor said with a wide smile.
The eight teams from four regional zones are Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, Awadhesh Pratap Singh University, Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University, Mumbai University, Jiwaji University, University of Madras and Jain University.
The event starts February 23 and goes on till mid-March.