[edit] FutureTech Vibha Cricket Cup 2011 – yet another story worth telling

Businesses rise and crash too easily. Sustenance is usually a demon, and in this economy, an unforgiving one. So, it beats me how a fund-raising organization like Vibha, running on passion, selflessness, and generosity, not only endures tough times, but continues to churn out one quality activity after another.

The 2011 FutureTech Vibha Cricket Cup tournament, inaugurated by former Ranji player and editor of Cricket Magazine, Abdul Qayyum, was no less. It was played to raise funds mainly for the Pune-based Door Step Schools project whose motto, "If the children are not coming to school, lets take the school to the doorsteps of children," reflects the easy magnanimity one associates with Vibha. Also, in an effort to support the local community, some of the proceeds were allocated to fund Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Being the pioneer of tennis ball cricket in Atlanta, Vibha has converted cricket tournament organization into a veritable Standard Operating Procedure. Their past 12 tournaments have been trend-setters, and their 13th this year was another 400-player blockbuster. Apart from the usual deluge of teams, clamor of cheerleading families, sun-drenched grounds, colorful banners, spicy food, and explosion of appeals and hurrahs, there were two things different: first, the venue; from the Vibha- synonymous turf fields of Georgia Tech, the scene shifted to the baseball grounds at East Roswell Park. Second, all the games were played on matted tracks. These changes added new attributes to an already successful format: a more relaxed, kid-friendly, carnival- style setting for families who appreciated the extra space and many shady, heat-beating spots, and batting wickets that allowed even bounce and pitch-free contests. From an organizational standpoint, this was a home-run, having cut hosting costs by 50%, which meant more smiles among needy children back home.

This year, Baddam Srinivas and Rama Ryali were the Coordinators, while Vrushali Desai took charge of creating the carnival atmosphere. Aiding them were scores of volunteers who worked both behind the scenes, and inside the cauldrons. Rama is glad to be a part of an organization which, he says, “strives for the betterment of the society.” So is Baddam, who feels Vibha organizers combine their “passion for the game, and the desire to better many young lives in India.” Such words echo strong sentiments that continue to bring new people willing to reset their priorities and donate their precious time.

After four months of organizational groundwork, and three grueling days of cricket, the Paramount Georgia Tigers lifted the Cup, beating FutureTech in the finals. Sravan, CEO of FutureTech (title sponsors) and Pramod Sajja of Paramount technologies gave away the trophies (see sidebar for awards). "Vibha is committed to effective giving," said Pramod."The enthusiasm of their members and volunteers is boundless."

As talented teams fought their way to the center of the competitive draw, cricketing magic peppered the tournament with incredible hat-tricks, ruthless last-over assaults, inevitable bantering, heartbreaks and miracles, magic that propelled yet another Vibha tournament into a success story. Success that will rewrite many a chapter in the lives of children who can breathe easier in the knowledge that someone cares.

VIBHA Future Tech Cricket Cup 2011 Results

Category Awarded To
Winners Paramount - Georgia Tigers
Runners Up Future Tech
Hope Dental Man of the Tournament Japin of Future Tech
Primus Man of the Finals Vijay of Paramount Georgia Tigers
Paramount Software Best Batsman Vijay of Paramount Georgia Tigers
(53 Runs in 3 matches)
Pyramid Consulting Best Bowler Japin of Future Tech
(7 wkts @ 21 runs)

[edit] Vibha Cricket - Passion for a Purpose

"An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little, before it will explain itself," said Charles Dickens. One afternoon in 1998 during a weekend brainstorming session, when a new volunteer suggested the idea of exploring cricket as a revenue generating event, the Vibha (then CRY) seniors loved it. They not only spoke to it a little, but indulged and mollycoddled it, and watched the idea blossom into one of their most fruitful fundraisers, which continues to attract attention and praise.

With every year, Vibha cricket, a pioneering tennis ball tourney in Atlanta, burgeoned in strength and purpose. What started modestly as a 16-team, six-a-side, six-over tournament in a Buford area ground grew into a 25-team event, then moved to the turf grounds at Georgia Tech in its third year, from where it exploded into a 40- team sponsored extravaganza. Today, close to 50 teams regularly compete over two full weekends. The eminence of Vibha cricket has indirectly spawned the creation of many tennis ball fund-raisers and leagues.

"Within a few years we realized the sponsorship potential of the tournament," says Srinivas Vemulapalli, one of the spearheads of Vibha cricket. Maharaja Restaurant sponsored the 2002 and 2003 event. FutureTech Consultants, a Norcross-based information technology company, recognized the advertising potential and altruistic charm of Vibha cricket, and what ensued was a long and telling partnership between the two organizations. Since sponsoring the tournament for the first time in 2004, FutureTech has continued to etch their names on Vibha trophies.

With sponsors taking care of the overheads, the Vibha fundraising juggernaut rolled on, amassing around $1,000 in its first year, $30,000 in 2007, onto a mammoth $54,000 in 2008. The number of participating players expanded from 96 in 1998 to more than 450 in recent years, so have the number of volunteers who have subscribed to the cause.

Like small but unforgettable memories of a growing child, Vibha cricket has peppered its history with achievements and landmarks, treasured moments that still linger in people's minds. The organizers, for example, added the super-16 tourney to their annual calendar that showcased the top teams from the regular tournament. In 2007, KingKonks brought cheerleaders to support their cricketing efforts. The tournament has attracted teams from beyond Georgia borders: Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida, and players from other countries including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, and South Africa. Chief guests have ranged from Honorary Counsels for India (Kenneth Cutshaw) to former cricketers (Clayton Lambert, Syed Abid Ali, Abdul Quayum, and Basil Williams).

Along with the efficiency and class that are synonymous with Vibha cricket, there are those familiar teams that have featured regularly in tournament reports and award lists, based on their consistently high standard of cricket. They include Chattanooga Titans, Alpharetta Monsters, Georgia Tech Playboys, and Blue Panthers.

"Initially, people used to play mainly for fun and the charitable cause, but nowadays the competition has stiffened, with every team hungry to lift the coveted Vibha cup," says Srinivas. This change in attitude has not gone unnoticed as veteran teams unexpectedly encounter their nemesis or face tougher hurdles in lesser known squads. The climb to the top has become demanding, a transformation that the organizers don't mind, for it injects fury and zeal that Vibha itself embodies in reaching their philanthropic goals.

In 2008, Vibha proudly hosted its tenth tournament, celebrating one whole decade of sustained volunteering, frenzied cricket, and undeviating passion for the bigger, more significant cause. While announcing a $10,000 donation at the event, FutureTech CEO Shravan Vellanki said, "We have had the privilege of writing a check every year to Vibha. They makes such an enormous impact in the lives of children who need our help."

The celebration was evident in the scale and pizzazz that the event put on view, embellished by perfect weather: the ever-zealous attendance (48 teams), attention-grabbing “Wall of Fame” and “10 years of Nostalgia” posters, and the victorious vanquishing of the $50,000 fundraising barrier. In his event report, Mallick Huggahalli proclaimed, "The funds raised will be more than sufficient to support the annual budgets of two of Vibha’s premier projects – Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT) in Andhra Pradesh and Vidyarambham in Tamilnadu."

After such a high, you would be forgiven if you thought Vibha would suffer from a post- event syndrome. Not this organization - they changed their approach again to maximize public contributions. Since renting the expensive Georgia Tech AstroTurf ground was eating into the funds, they asked themselves, "What makes this ground attractive?" The even bounce. In the shadow of that answer came a smart and swift solution: packing up here and carrying the advantage that Georgia Tech offered to a less expensive venue. Vibha invested in cricketing mats, and shifted the tournament to East Roswell park, a move that allowed even playing fields, and more funds in hand. Says Rama Ryali, "I am glad to be a part of an organization that strives for the betterment of society." Equally appreciative is Sreeni Baddam, "The satisfaction one gets is enormous, in being able to make a difference to kids." Rama and Sreeni were volunteer coordinators who formed the brick and mortar of Vibha's recent tournament in East Roswell.

In the past decade, using the boost from cricket, Vibha has intensified its impact by scaling up certain projects, including Sikshana (for improving the performance in public schools) and Door Step School (DSS; for the education of children of migrant construction workers), which receive yearly funding to the tune of $120,000 and $85,000, respectively.

Upper echelons of Vibha strongly believe that the organization should not about people, it should be about intent. With guiding principles like these, when it doesn't matter whose hands wiped the tears from the child's eyes, Vibha has the right stance and temperament to march on in its endeavors. "Respect for Atlanta Vibha comes from the admiration I have for the people who run the organization but prefer to stay away from limelight," says Ajay Vishwanathan, an Alpharetta Monsters team member and a former Player of the Tournament. People recognize the challenge and efforts, often reflected in the earnest participation in tournaments, and sustained volunteering, a tribute to the cause and the driving forces behind the unflagging might that Vibha has become.

At that fateful meeting where someone suggested cricket as an instrument to bring in new funds, no one would have imagined that this baby would flourish into something beyond fun and cricket, beyond individual glory, and beyond thousands of hours of selfless work. It is about giving, giving in ways that only recipients understand and cherish. Charles Dickens would have been proud to know that an idea like this wasn't just spoken to; it was caressed into a form so noble that everyone affiliated with it now wishes they had nourished similar plans.

Vibha is a 501 (c) (3) organization, registered in the State of New Jersey. Vibha's Tax ID is 22-3122761.
Copyright © 2016 Vibha Inc. All rights reserved.
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