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ACE Foundation: Nine years of changing lives and creating champions

Author: Maxon Sequeira
Copyrights: ACE Foundation

ACE Foundation: Nine years of changing lives and creating champions

ACE Foundation has steadily grown as a team and as a life changing platform for youth. It has supported the development of youngsters in India through rugby as a medium to bring change. It developed a strong foundation with an established grassroots structure to groom young rugby players to be more confident in themselves, grow to be leaders and even be able to represent their country in the sport of rugby.

ACE Foundation (ACE) was founded on 12 November in 2010 by a few individuals who aimed to change the lives of marginalised youth through rugby. They believed that despite being a contact sport, rugby’s core values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect could aid the development of youth just as it did for them.

Since its inception, one of ACE’s prime objectives was to promote confidence and a positive self-image among underprivileged youth by empowering them through sport. Supporting talented individuals with the right guidance and improved technique was key to this.

To achieve this ACE began by establishing a strong foundation with a structured grassroot level programme. ACE developed over time as a team, with individuals from different parts of Mumbai meeting at a common training venue. It turned this weakness into its strength, by equipping this core team of players to be coaches and trainers. ACE empowered eight youngsters and encouraged them to start training youth in their own areas and building their own teams, thus giving birth to the concept of ACE’s “community teams”.

These youth who took on the responsibility as community coaches took pride in their work in developing their community teams. Self-confidence took over their shy personas. They trained their peers and teams with more care and sensitivity, realising and remembering their own hardships during their earlier times.

ACE used its community rugby programme to support and fuel its athlete development programme that grooms talented individuals to become elite level athletes. This programme allowed ACE to promote promising talent to play rugby at the highest level possible.

ACE has established its community rugby programme at eighteen locations across ACE’s home state of Maharashtra and other locations around India too. ACE recently went global by setting up a community rugby team based out of Paris through the initiative of two young and dynamic volunteers who set up ACE Foundation France – ACE’s first international community team.

ACE Foundation France was set up as a partner organisation to ACE Foundation India after being inspired by the ability of ACE India’s community rugby programme to reach close to 7,500 youngsters through rugby, with about 700 being actively involved in ACE on a weekly basis, despite limited resources and a lack of other support systems.

A highlight of the hard work and efforts of ACE is evident with the fact that ACE has constantly been featured as a rugby side that cannot be taken lightly. A number of athletes have risen through the ranks to play elite level rugby, at the national and even international level. With as many as 15 athletes having participated in international level tournaments and almost a 100 at the national level. Additionally about 15 of ACE players have also had the opportunity to be match officials, coaches and team support at the national level and the international level as well.