Today, the Goregaon Sports Club (GSC) is the pride of Malad in Mumbai. Blessed with the best sporting facilities, sports events & culture building activities. The club positively impacts the lives of more than 30,000 people.
Things were not always so awesome. This fascinating and unbelievable story of change will reinstil your faith in the power of positivity.
Steering the time clock back to 2001, Mumbai. The year I got married and moved to Goregaon.
Being born & brought up in South Mumbai, the move was a culture shock for me for a while. Over time, it was nice to see Goregaon & Malad growing into ‘happening’ suburbs. The marshy lands were being replaced by buildings, malls, restaurants, hotels & commercial complexes. The suburb had all the ingredients of an impending real estate boom.
However, time stood still for the Goregaon Sports Club till 2013.
“The club was perceived as a space full of bitterness, animosity and a breeding ground for politics. The ‘sports’ was out of the club and replaced by power games where annual meetings would end into death threats. Corruption would perform a naked dance on the roof while everyone buried their heads in the sand like ostriches. If there can be one MAJOR change that the club witnesses today, its the fact that we are NO LONGER A BITTER PLACE.” says Sunil Dewali, current Vice President, GSC. Interestingly, Mr. Dewali was the first non-Gujrati/non-Marwadi who contested club elections & won.
My husband, Amarkant Jain & I silently watched from the wings while we saw my father-in-law & his fellow co-founders’ dream being burned to ashes.
Fast-forward to 2013, a group of young men was disallowed from playing cricket due to reasons totally unrelated to cricket.
They decided to stand up against an established system with a simple demand: “We deserve to play SPORTS in a sports club. We need the facilities to be rightfully allocated through a fair and transparent process for the purpose of playing SPORTS.”
A simple demand that led to the birth of GenNext, a movement that changed Goregaon Sports Club forever.
How did the GenNext movement begin?
Mukul Agarwal, Mentor and Architect of GenNext. passionately narrates this story as follows: “I have been born and brought up in Malad and later had to shift to South Mumbai for professional reasons. When one is on the growth path, everything else takes a back seat until one day, the desire to go back to one’s passion returns.”
After a 15 year hiatus and shifting to South Mumbai, I suddenly got bitten by the cricket bug once again and started playing cricket in 2010-11.
“I connected with my old friends and formed a group that met every weekend to play at the Goregaon Sports Club. Invariably, every weekend, we found that the ground was never available. It used to be given away to some or the other Sanstha for events. This became a cause for worry after about 4 months when we started digging deeper.” Mr. Agarwal continues.
We learned that the ground was being given away as a favor to maintain personal relations. No records were being maintained let alone financial gain for the club. “
“We spoke to the Management and were given an answer, “Yahan aisa hi chalta hai.” This was extremely disturbing. We held a signature campaign and gathered more than 300 signatures and barged into the office with a single demand, ‘allow us to use the ground for sports.’ That is when we were acknowledged and the ground was given to us for playing cricket. However, this is not where things ended.” Mr. Agarwal reminisces.
He then narrates the election story: “In 2014, 2 months before the club elections, Rituraj Gupta, son of Founder member, Shri Radheshyamji Gupta approached me and requested me to contest elections. That is when Rishi, my dear friend encouraged me to contest. Dewali used to play cricket with me and Sunil Singhania was an old friend, I spoke to them and three of us contested and won.”
The challenges had only begun and merely 3 members were not enough to make a huge difference observed Mr. Agarwal, he continues the story: “However, when we entered the system we realized that there were two groups of people, one evil and the other less evil. A strong opponent team was needed who would not only contest and win but also change the club’s way of working. We needed more people. No one knew us and no one wanted to enter the club’s elections or administration because of the perception that surrounded it. We then started speaking to more and more members and getting them into GenNext. Finally, we formed GenNext in 2016 and contested the elections. “
He proudly ends the story by saying, “Today, GenNext is a faceless team of selfless people who put in their blood, sweat and tears into making the club the best ever in North Mumbai and it won’t be a surprise if we become the best in the state, country and even the world very soon.”
What has changed at GSC?
- Improved sporting facilities comparable to international standards
- Better coaches to ensure members ace at their sport of choice
- International walking track benefits over 1000 members & non-members daily
- Promotion of health & wellness through camps
- Urging people to ‘Run for health’ through Marathons
- More intra-club sporting events that promote the game & spirit of sports (Squash league, Badminton League, Women’s Throwball, Cricket League, Tennis League etc.)
- Culture-building events like Bhagwad Gita recitation, enactment of Ramayana the epic etc.
- Fellow-ship events like Mango Festival, Women’s Day, Garba Night, Musical Night, Play enactment, Sunday Housie, Movie screening etc.
- 5-star living facilities for guests & members
- 3 affordable multi-cuisine restaurants
What numbers are we looking at?
- Over 1000 people using the walking track daily
- Culture-building & fellowship events attracting crowds of over 2500 people per event
- Over 3000 people participating in the Marathon
- Over 155 events organized in 2018 alone!
- Every event has a chairman who assumes the responsibility of the event. Thus the club has created 155 leaders within their fold.
How does the financial structure work?
“Most events are self-funded where the money is raised through sponsors. The club stands to gain as the club stands to gain as brand GSC highlighted. Each activity has a chairperson who presents a proposal that is budgeted, approved and a check is kept by the respective office bearer. The club stands to gain when activities are giving a higher return on investment.” explains Sunil Singhania, President, GSC.
Mr. Singhania has invested in sponsoring cricket teams for the Goregaon Sports Club Premiere League (GSCPL). He is the founder of Abakkus Asset Manager and avidly uses the walking track for his own health.
How does a handful of committee members organize so many events and catalyze so many changes? Answer: They don’t!
The robust model followed by the GenNext is one that believes in the inherent goodness of the human being. “Out of 100 people you meet, 95 will always be good. One needs to empower good people & watch the world change for the best,” says Mukul Agarwal, Mentor & Architect of GenNext.
“As a result, any member who comes up with a positive idea in the interest of the club members is given the tools & budgets to implement it. As a result, over 160 leaders have been created within GSC today. Each of them selflessly works towards the betterment of the club while contributing to their own self-worth & happiness.” Mr. Agarwal continues.
Mr. Agarwal leads an extremely busy life as the MD of Param Capital Pvt. Ltd. He chose not to occupy any seat of power and instead helps the club by staying among the members. He sponsors a team at GSCPL and has also funded the Cricket Academy at the club.
Can anyone come forward and make a difference? Answer: YES!
The GenNext is constantly on the lookout for more and more members to take lead in the club’s matters. “The current management has a progressive attitude and the team believes in advocating positivity in thought, speech, and action. Empowering our fellow members is what GenNext is all about. We serve in our best capacity and we pass on the baton to the next responsible person. We leave behind something so solid, that solid becomes the new benchmark” says Nigam Patel, Hon. Secretary, GSC.
A cricketer and cyclist, Mr. Patel is an entrepreneur who sets aside time from his busy schedule to attend to the club matters. Every single day, Mr. Patel ensures that he spends at least 2-3 hours at the club, solving matters and interacting with the members.
More than 30,000 people with over 500 key members who remain active in all events. What keeps them together? How do they stay away from politics and narcissism?
“Passion for sports is the number one reason that binds us all together. The entire GenNext consists of sports people who wish to promote sports and a healthy lifestyle. We got together with the common goal of promoting sports and stood up for what is right rather than supporting popular, politically correct opinions. We want to give back to society & share our experiences while doing so. At the same time, we want to network and learn from co-members in the club and ensure that everyone feels in-charge and empowered to create a difference. We want the child within us to stay alive forever so that we don’t feel old.” shared Mr. Agarwal.
You will see Mr. Agarwal merging into the crowds while standing out like a leader among equals, with his feet firmly on the ground. He attributes the initial trigger to his friend, Rishi Kedia, GSC’s current outdoor sports chairman who made him realize that if one had to change the system, one had to be part of the system.
How does the GenNext ensure that every member feels involved and empowered?
“When we decided to contest elections in 2014, we were just 3 candidates the rest of them were sourced by making announcements at every event in the club. We were facing people who wanted to stay miles away from the club’s daily affairs. We worked hard to create a mind shift and get people to join us. We have introduced a simple system to ensure that the working stays as democratic and inclusive as possible; none of us holds an office for more than two terms and no chair for more than one year.” says Mr. Dewali.
Mr. Dewali is not only an avid user of the club facilities and a cricketer par excellence, but you will also see him networking with the members every single day. Dewali is the COO of Andromeda Marketing Ltd.
How does GenNext prevent misuse, embezzlement, politicking, and nepotism – a signature in most public institutions?
“There are two kinds of people who take up positions in public institutions like ours, one type is fanatic about name, fame, money, and power. The other category is those people who actually wish to work and participate in the club activities. Passionate sportspersons who are equally involved in the development of the club are those who win hearts through the positive changes at the institution. The idea is to ignite passion and inspire others to join the movement and take over the office for the betterment of the club.” reiterates Mr. Patel.
The whole climate is that of mutual respect for each other’s intellect and a deep-rooted trust that each person is working towards the betterment of the club. This is reflected when Mr. Singhania shares, “I received tremendous support from the outgoing President and am inspired to fully support the next one who takes the baton from me. It’s like a chain reaction or relay race where we keep passing the torch to the next responsible and passionate person. So far, the model is working and we are sure it will continue to work as long as there are good sportspersons & human beings in this world.”
What does founder member K K Jain think about the GenNext?
Founder member, Krishankant Jain (fondly known as KK Jain Sahab) has always been perceived as the most neutral. History of the club reveals stories of how he single-handedly stood up for what is right and garnered loads of negativity and enemies in the bargain. However, he stood his ground – always. His main aim is the betterment of the club and nothing else.
“When one sees a selfless initiative making quantum changes at the club, one feels it right to hand over the baton to the right people. It’s nice to come to the meetings and discuss with an intelligent lot who keep the club before anything else. Arguments and disagreements still occur but everyone has only one goal in mind and that is the betterment of the club. After many years, I am now able to peacefully enjoy the club facilities without having to bother about mindless actions of vested interests.” shared KK Jain Sahab.
Who is GenNext and who are the people involved?
“GenNext is a movement of like-minded individuals. If you are progressive and keep the club before self, then you are GenNext.” emphasizes Mr. Agarwal.
“There are so many more people & names that are behind GenNext, impossible to include them all. They know who they are and they continue to work selflessly for the sake of the club’s welfare. Kudos to all the unnamed warriors of GenNext. They are the reason why the club is prospering. We are blessed to have such wonderful people around us.” said, Mr. Patel
Note from DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter:
I have breathed air that is free of politics and bitterness. And that is why this I decided to write this blog post.
It is indeed IMPOSSIBLE to believe that there exists a space where ZERO POLITICS and MUTUAL RESPECT form part of the atmosphere. A wonderful space where people come together to have fun and promote sports and culture. If you still don’t believe it, then NOW is a good time to step into Goregaon Sports Club and feel the change.
On my part, over the past one year, I have participated in Throwball, Marathon, Walking, Women’s Day celebration, Mango Festival, Musical Night, Garba, Aerobics, Swimming, Yoga among others. Recently, I got the opportunity to perform in front of 3500 people in RAMAYANA – a magnum opus production conceptualized by GSC’s Cultural Chairman, JD Majethia.
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