Out-of-favour India offspinner Harbhajan Singh on Thursday opened a new cricket academy here with an aim of diverting youngsters to cricket from the clutches of substance abuse and usage.
One of them is in the Punjab.
"For me one of the prime reasons to start an academy in Punjab was to de-addict youngsters. The idea is to divert them towards sports," he said at the launch of the centre of the Harbhajan Singh Institute of Academy (HSIS) at the Delhi Public School in Megacity, New Town.
The 34-year-old spinner said the academy will provide youngsters a platform to enhance their cricketing talent.
"We’re not here to make money, we are only here to promote the game of cricket. That is what our agenda is. There’s no dearth of talent in Bengal or in India, all we need is to give them is best infrastructure and facilities. Who knows we might just produce another Dada (Sourav Ganguly) from here," he said.
"Our motive is only to promote cricket and not everyone is lucky like me. We will try not only to teach them cricketing skills but ensure that there is overall development in their personalities," he said.
The academy has four centres in Punjab and the "turbanator" plans to set up another in Mumbai.
Terming Kolkata as his second home because of several memorable achievements at Eden Gardens, Harbhajan said the academy could be a source of sustainance for former Indian cricketers who are without employment.
"Cricket has given me so much, so I believe it’s my moral duty to give something back to the game.
"This is not only for me or the youngsters at the academy, this will be a source of income for my cricketer friends as well. There are many former cricketers who are jobless. It will be a good platform for them as well," he said.
The off-spinner said even if five players from the academy were to play for the national team in the future, then it would be a success.
"If around 50 players from these centres go on to represent their respective states out of which atleast five make the India cut, then it would be a success."
"I’ll also visit the cricketers, pretty often as per our programme. There will also be other sports activities," he said.
Asked if he plans to become a coach in future, the bowler said: "No, I don’t think so. I am still playing very active cricket. I will think about it after 4-5 years maybe. I’ve still not thought about it whether I would get into coaching or something else."