A festive atmosphere prevailed in Donja village in this district when cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar arrived to a hero's welcome on a visit on Tuesday.The Rajya Sabha member had come on his maiden trip to review the status of several project works in the village which he has 'adopted' under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) in November 2016. Donja is situated around 330 km from Mumbai.This morning, as he arrived in a helicopter at the village square, Sachin was cheerfully received by a group of women who performed the welcome 'aarti', offering him flowers and showed him colourful 'rangolis' - specially created for his first visit - on the roads. After the official engagements were over, it was an open field day for most of the villagers who had come to see in person the 44-year-old batting genius, who was clad in a dark multi-hued checked shirt with sleeves partly rolled up, dark blue jeans, and of course, his trademark black sunglasses.Sachin attended a function organised for him where he felicitated excited schoolkids for their academic or extra-curricular achievements, shy women for excelling in local 'Bachat Gat' schemes and other village-level activities by presenting them prizes, trophies and certificates.There was a good dose of claps and cheers for Sachin and the people he felicitated from the huge crowd that had assembled to see and hear their idol."I am overwhelmed by your enthusiasm and spirit and hope all of us can work together towards the development of your village. The initial challenges in implementing the works have been successfully overcome. I am sure the execution of the works will pick up speed and we can showcase it as a case (study) for other villages in the country," Sachin said.
Explaining his rationale to select Donja, he said that his inspection teams found that Donja was very different, the 2,800 people here "displayed a tremendous fighting spirit, and all communities live and work harmoniously".The batting maestro also addressed the children, asking them to "concentrate on their studies and also on sports" for all-round development of their personality."Please respect your parents and elders for achieving success in life... You can get fame not only for yourself and your village but also the whole nation," Sachin told the youngsters.Later, it was time for some games. As somebody produced a makeshift bat, Sachin took it for 'testing' the village school boys' cricketing skills.Taking the crease confidently, he signalled the bowler to throw the ball.Seeing the God of Cricket himself in front of him, the poor young bowler lost his nerves and started throwing the ball everywhere but at Sachin.While Sachin hardly got to show off the act for which he is revered by cricketers worldwide, he took it in his stride, laughing, joking and enjoying the discomfiture of the nervous village lads trying to 'clean bowl' him.Even the villagers had their share of fun, shouting, whistling, clapping and cheering the 'match' between their boys and Sachin.Soon it was time for him to pack up and as he bid his 'adopted' villagers good-bye, he left behind a treasury of memories for them to cherish.