Inside India’s NDTV studios in New Delhi, Coca-Cola sat down with one of the country’s most beloved ambassadors, famed athlete Sachin Tendulkar. He’s been featured on the cover of Time magazine as the “God of Cricket,” and is now also very active in the nation’s government as the first professional athlete to take up a nominated seat in upper house of India’s Parliament. But beyond the noteworthy titles and accolades is a man who cares most deeply for his country, its future and the children who ultimately will determine India’s place in the global economy.
Guided by those passions, Tendulkar most recently became a spokesperson for the Coca-Cola NDTV Support My School program. Support My School is a collaborative project among Coca-Cola India, the NDTV News Network, many corporate partners, local governments, school administrations and several NGOs. The embodiment of Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent’s “Golden Triangle” approach to business and philanthropy, Support My School is improving India’s education one school at a time. The program installs working restrooms for students, access to water, and playgrounds among other basic amenities. The improvements have shown immediate payoff by drawing children, specifically young girls, back to the classroom. When we asked Tendulkar about his involvement with the program, he told us he is enjoying visiting the country’s schools and spending time with grade-school-age children. “Being a father, it comes easily,” he tells us. “It’s a very natural fit.”
Wanting to know more about this philanthropist, mentor and sports icon who’s known for spreading happiness to India’s children, we asked Tendulkar what is it that makes him happy. Without hesitation, Tendulkar listed three things: cricket, his family and friends.
As one of the few people whose image has been replicated on a Coke can (pictured below), he shared with us that his favorite drink isn’t the classic, but “a Diet Coke with no ice — just a little cooler than room temperature.” That is unless he’s in Sri Lanka — then he says he’ll gladly accept the ice.
Presenting Tendulkar with a “what if,” we asked him if he couldn’t play cricket, what would be his favorite sport to play? Turns out he has two: tennis and Formula One racing.
Who does he consider the greatest athlete of all time? That would be legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. And what was the last thing he remembers scribbling on a napkin? Well, his autograph of course.