Jaipur: AU Small Finance Bank (AU SFB), India’s largest SFB, announced today that Muskaan, an athlete trained under the AU Bano Champion initiative, has secured a silver medal at the 6th Khelo India Youth Games 2023. With this achievement, the 16-year-old athlete Muskaan from Bansra village in Kishangarh Bas (Alwar) has earned a Rs 20 Lakh scholarship from the Government of India. She achieved this by winning a 1500-metre race in a record time of 4 min 34 sec., which has surpassed the best record set in Khelo India Youth Games so far. These scholarships are granted to 1000 young athletes annually by the ‘Khelo India Youth Games’, preparing them for international sporting events.
Muskaan, the daughter of a farmer and a part-time labourer, was introduced to the world of sports two years back when she enrolled in the AU Bano Champion training programme. Her coach, Shahrukh Khan, provided her with intensive training for two years supported by advanced sports equipment that is provided to all trainees of the AU Bano Champion programme. This is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of grassroots sports training, that AU Small Finance Bank has been conducting since October 2021 under the ‘AU Bano Champion’ programme.
Speaking about her achievement, Muskaan shared, “My father was in no position to afford sports training for me. However, when the AU Foundation project came along, I was given the opportunity to train under Shahrukh Sir. This initiative has proven to be a crucial avenue for me to pursue my dreams. It provided access to sports equipment that I could never have afforded on my own. Thanks to AU Small Finance Bank, I not only clinched a medal in the Khelo India Youth Games but also secured a spot in the Asian Championships. From the Junior Nationals to this point, I have made significant progress, and with the continued support of AU Foundation, I am confident that I will bring home a medal for India in the future.”
Bano Champion project ‘Maidaan se Manzil Tak’ is a groundbreaking CSR initiative of AU Small Finance Bank, launched in October 2021, to provide guided sports training to rural youth, in sports such as athletics, football, throwball, volleyball, and games of local preference. The programme has quickly evolved into a transformative force, impacting the lives of over 8000 children across 64 rural and semi-urban locations in 22 districts of Rajasthan. The initiative has garnered support from various sectors, including partnerships with sectoral experts, association bodies, and the government.
In the last two years, this programme has produced many national & international level sportspersons. 59 athletes qualified for the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) including two boys from Sikar who were selected for the national football team in Dec 2023. One athlete from Kishangarh Bas qualified for the World Junior Athletics Championship and 31 youngsters have qualified for the 19th National Inter District Junior Athletics Meet scheduled next month.
More sports prodigies are poised to shine at the upcoming 2nd State-level sports tournament of ‘AU Bano Champion,’ scheduled to take place in Jaipur later this month.