• Viru offers academic & co-curricular activities under one roof
  •  Sachin, Laxman laud the initiative

As a child, he wanted to don the India colours and wield the willow to slaughter the fearsome bowling attack anywhere in the world. But Virender Sehwag, the swashbuckling India opener, never forgot for a moment his parental advice not to ignore education.

That was easier said than done, though. The young Sehwag always found it tough shuttling between home and school, especially grappling with the sheer wastage of time while trying to balance academics with his favourite game.

True, his home and school in the 1990s weren’t far apart; both were in Najafgarh, then a dusty, underdeveloped colony in southwest Delhi. “But on crowded buses, it isn’t easy to carry your heavy cricket kit in your hand and an equally heavy school bag slung across your shoulders. The conductor needn’t be kind; you end up wasting hours in transit between school, coaching centre and home,” notes Sehwag, whose batting prowess has scripted many an international record.

“I thought of a solution to it: why not set up a world class school where education and top-rate sports facilities will blend seamlessly?’’

The result is Sehwag International School (SIS), a 23-acre multi-activity campus in Jhajjar, just south of plush Gurgaon in Haryana. Into its third year, the school is bracing up to take in no less than 250 students in the upcoming academic year.

SIS, for the record, is India’s only school to be founded by a cricketer of global repute. A co-ed, boarding-cum-day school with 370 students, it is the realisation of an ideal situation Sehwag had cherished during his evolving years.

“Good schooling is a must even with your passion for sports,” notes the Nawab of Najafgarh, who started SIS in 2011 along with his wife Aarti Sehwag, its chairperson. “My aim is to give the young generation all necessary facilities under one roof. An institution where the parental care won’t be missing — with a band of affectionate teachers available round the clock for boarders! A home away from home!”

Creditably, SIS, which follows CBSE syllabus and is poised to teach its first class X batch in 2014-15, accommodates day scholars along with boarders. “I want to ensure that my endeavour also benefits people of my own native land. Their children can go back home every day; the expense is thus less,” says Sehwag, whose parents hail from Chudani village which is close to Bahadurgarh in pastoral Jhajjar district.

Celebrity cricketers are all praise for Sehwag and his unique endeavour.

Sachin Tendulkar says SIS venture makes him proud to be associated with Sehwag. “It’s a great job. I wish Viru all success,” adds the master-blaster who has partnered with Sehwag in running SportsMentor Pvt Ltd, which is a pioneer in providing an internationally-accredited scientific sports education programme for schoolchildren in India.

Former captain Sourav Ganguly notes that it rarely happens that a successful cricketer invests in education when there are more lucrative ventures around. “I’m proud of him,” adds the southpaw.

Hyderabadi great V V S Laxman, who has visited SIS, is particularly impressed with the school’s cricket stadium built as per BCCI stipulations. “The ground is big-size; the facilities are state-of-the-art,” he gushes. “Overall, it’s a good blend of co-curricular activities.”

In fact, besides the cricket ground, the SIS campus has high-standard facilities for athletics, basketball, badminton, equestrian, football, lawn tennis, table tennis, squash and a swimming pool.

Besides nine full-time coaches, the school has highly-qualified teachers who also take care of boarders (boys, for now) in spacious, air-conditioned, four-bedded rooms — each bathroom-attached). “We strive to make them responsible citizens by instilling in them the need to work for society rather than scripting just individual success stories,” says Sehwag, the only Indian to be honoured as the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World for his performance in 2008, and next year becoming the first player of any nationality to retain the award.

The Sehwags have two children, and is keen to admit them to SIS. “Aryavir is in class 1; the younger one is in a playschool. “From their class 3, both will be in SIS,” avers Delhi-raised Aarti.

Sehwag says his background as a sportsperson has helped him realise the true value of lessons learnt outside the bounds of a classroom. “At SIS, we go beyond and ensure that our students get the best of indoor and outdoor training, moulding them to think critically, synthesize knowledge and reflect on their own thought processes,” he adds.

Aarti reveals that the basic aim is to ensure comprehensive development programmes for students to give them an international learning experience, while preserving our core Indian values. “With such qualities imbibed within them, our students are bound to ‘Arise, Awake, Ascend’ to greater heights and a greater tomorrow.”