There is no doubt that Nav Bhatia loves basketball. The “Raptors Superfan” has attended every Toronto Raptors home game since 1995. But that’s not really the reason why this growing Canadian icon became the first fan to ever receive a championship ring, earn honours in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and to be featured in a Tim Hortons commercial.
Nav Bhatia represents much more than basketball. Over the past few years, he’s become a symbol of the core Canadian values of diversity, inclusivity and opportunity. Coming to Canada as an Indian immigrant, he was educated as an engineer, but found his fortune as the owner of one of the top-selling Hyundai car dealerships in Canada.
And that opened the door for another true love. The Superfan is also a Super Philanthropist. In a new interview with World Vision Canada President and CEO, Michael Messenger to mark World Water Day, Nav Bhatia talks about his dedication to humanity, the power of gender equality and the creation of his “Superfan Foundation” which unites people through the love of sport.
Watch the interview now:
“When I partnered with World Vision, I was very inspired. I was looking forward to building more basketball courts so more kids could play and focus their energy in a positive way through that sport,” Bhatia said, referring to his Foundation’s work building and resurfacing basketball courts for communities across Canada.
That inspiration came through his partnership with the “Rise Up Daughters of India”
initiative which recognizes that one of the leading reasons why adolescent girls drop-out of school is their lack of access to washrooms.
“This was a program that moved me very much,” Bhatia said. “My daughter, Tia Bhatia, was adopted in India so I had firsthand insight into the plight of girls there. Education is a right for every girl and more important than we realize. Often girls are married at a very young age and that’s a sin. It becomes even harder to address when girls are pulled out of school once their period starts for safety reasons. Just by building washrooms for girls and providing that safety can often be the difference between staying in school and being pulled out.”
The “Rise Up Daughters of India
” program has sought to address this critical issue by building 35 school washrooms in some of the poorest areas of India.
Nav Bhatia described what it was like to see the work firsthand. “Whenever you are partnering with an organization, people say that they are wasting money on this or that. But [World Vision], they do what they say,” Bhatia said.
“For humanity to be successful, these young girls need to be educated. Poverty is the biggest disease. Poverty breeds poverty. But now these girls will be graduating and getting jobs and it will bring them to do better than they have been doing. My daughter, my wife, together, we are believers.”
Join Nav and help secure an education and future for girls in India.