THEY CAME. THEY SAW. THEY BUILT.

A part of our world is equipped with technology-made-easy automation and progress. A major part of the world is not so fortunate to even dream of fulfilled basic amenities. There are barriers, there are difficulties and there are champions who overcome all this.

Prasanna came from a small village with a bag full of dreams never realising one day those dreams will become his identity. He met Jaspreet with similar dreams, but a different life story. Jaspreet was the shy son of a strict and discipline-loving military man. They crossed paths and carved a new life out of all the challenges.

Prasanna’s first encounter with Slum Soccer’s coaches was something like this. He went to the ground where practice sessions were on. As he was not allowed to play for the reason that his stamina would not last long, he was offended and challenged to play. Soon he realised the coaches were right, that addictions would only make him weaker. He started playing and knew what kind of magic football can create. There is a positive intoxication in sports. It takes you with itself and makes you a great player.

As they say, the rest is history. Prasanna never looked back since then. His hard work and dedication blessed him with the opportunities to represent India twice – Homeless World Cup, 2011 (Paris) & Youth Leadership Programme, 2014 (Japan). Prasanna says, “My journey of living a quality life started when I joined Slum Soccer. Since then, I have only moved ahead in life without letting difficult times pull me down.”

Jaspreet, initially, did not have the courage to tell his parents about his love for football and his dream of associating with this sport for life. As a result of his efforts and dedication, he was selected for Homeless World Cup, 2014 (Chile). Belonging to a conservative family, it was challenging for Jaspreet to convince his parents. “They started accepting things when they saw me grow and when they witnessed my progress.” He recollects.

The duo has been a part of Slum Soccer for quite a long time now. They have been trained in all the necessary Life Skills. The Livelihood Training has made them independent and enhanced their abilities. Career Counselling cleared their notions and they found their life goal. “Slum Soccer was the reason that we could gather the courage to take a decision and make it right,” They say.

Sports materials available at most places are too expensive and not affordable without a financial support. Many good players are left behind as they do not get the required material due to high costs. Recognising this need gap, Prasanna & Jaspreet came together and started ‘Jalandhar Sports Store’. “It is our contribution to the sport. We hope no player misses a good opportunity because of monetary matters,” Jaspreet says. Their effort has made things easy for players and sports enthusiasts.

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The story of these boys is remarkable in so many aspects — entrepreneurship, sportsmanship and life skills. It requires courage and undying spirit to make things work. It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going. These champions prove that becoming a player is only the first step. It opens a world of infinite opportunities and prepares you to face them. It is your hard work and dedication that shape you.

No goal is impossible to strike once you understand the game and have a spirit to win. There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; And then there are those who turn one into the other. We hope to create and inspire many others of the third kind — the dreamers and the doers.

Discover Football – One Game. Many Lives. One Voice.

Why, do you think, does an internationally acclaimed sport need a women’s association?

When we look towards a perspective, on the world front, that says, ‘development should be all-inclusive,’ it becomes clear that each and every element of the society should feel — included. It is not an exaggeration when we claim that women are at par with men in every field. It is the reality of the new world that no field in the world is untapped by women; Women have carved a niche in every sector, in every domain and everywhere.

Some parts of the world do not have favourable conditions for women to work freely even today; yet, women have been courageously surpassing all the boundaries, breaking barriers and coming forward, pioneering the undiscovered and rewriting history.

The sport of football is full of golden opportunities for overall development of everyone involved. Women have been a part of it from a long time. The ‘all-inclusive’ development takes place when the opportunities reach the underprivileged sections of the society as much as they are present in the higher sections.

Worldwide, numerous organisations are, collectively, making sure that there is scope for all — genders and sections — in sports. Discover Football is one such initiative. It is more than a concept or an organisation. It is a movement, an ocean of opportunities and better avenues. It is the perfect amalgamation of the recognition of a need gap, the fulfilment by a great solution and the grassroots connect that it dwells on.

It brings women across the world, who believe in the emancipatory idea of football, together. They are the professional players, the experts, the volunteers and women from the underprivileged areas all over the globe. They become a common voice for women’s football and women’s rights, equally.

Discover Football organises Tours and Campaigns, Conferences and Workshops, Football and Cultural Festivals to connect with women football players and experts across the world. There are publication materials for references and stories from around the world. They narrate the challenges faced by women, how they overcame the difficulties and succeeded. These tales inspire many others to come forward and work.

My Journey Towards Discovering More

(Here is the story of Slum Soccer’s football gem — Shrutika Amle. She will be representing India in the Discover Football Conference, 2017.)

Life changing experiences take your breath away. You are happy and scared at the same time. Imagine, what is more than representing your country on a world front? Isn’t that the best feeling in the world?

Well, the euphoria doesn’t come alone. It brings a fright with it.

You are excited but anxious, scared yet full of zeal. You are confident but worried.

I tried to cry out my fears, but it does not work that way. We win over situations only by passing through them, by experiencing them. Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid; Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.

I get goosebumps when I talk about Discover Football. You are the face of your nation. You are the reason for million smiles that will follow. You have a freedom, but you have a responsibility. You get wings, but you have to learn control. It is more than my first journey alone, it is more than visiting an international platform, it is much more than being the only person from your country to be a part of something so important. It is more and it is deeper.

I have been selected to attend the Discover Football Conference, 2017. I will be representing India in Berlin. My presence in the conference will act as an opportunity for many more dreams that depend on me. Every right step that I take will give good results for the lives in a remote corner of our country.

Discover Football is a platform for women across the world to come together for the development of women & woman’s football, and issues concerning women worldwide. I hope I am able to contribute something valuable and bring back a lot of learning.

I knew nothing beyond India. It was the world for me. When I got opportunities to play internationally, I realised there is a world outside that is built on a connection of people from various beliefs, backgrounds, geographic areas and cultures. My view widened and I started looking for more in life. My dreams starting taking shape, I realised what a courageous and determined soul can do.

Saying this, I know I still have my fears and insecurities. It doesn’t matter how far you throw them, they are bound to come back; The only change that happens is within us; We become stronger with every experience.

I grew up watching women working hard and earning a living that can suffice only the basic needs. They toiled hard to win their daily bread and would end up living a life compromising their aspirations. Determined to rise above it, my journey to self-discovery started when I completely fell in love with football. I have been playing various sports since childhood. Attempts have been made to keep me away from football as nobody wanted my education to suffer; But, being a rebel I won’t give up on something good.

Football has not only made me a better person, but it has also made people believe in me. They do not hesitate to send their children to our centre. I visit their areas, too. It gives a better connect to them and I can understand their problems well. It also helps me to help them solve their difficulties.

I chose an education where I can study and invest my time in football, too. I see myself working more towards the development of many more lives through football. It will be my contribution to humanity.

I was unaware that a bundle of abundant energy, if well-directed, can create wonders. People often tell me that they appreciate my clarity of thoughts. I feel proud of the fact that Slum Soccer has been the strength that shaped my personality, my thoughts and my life.

When I became a part of Slum Soccer, I realised there are places where you are not judged by your background, your level of education, the skin colour that you have; There are people who see the human side of you, believe in your capability and help you grow. Slum Soccer is my second family, it feels like home. If it didn’t exist, many souls like me would not be independently facing the world and living their dreams.

I believe that one should never look back. We should always keep moving forward and also help others to grow. There is always a lot to discover and fortune favours the brave. I have learnt that with vision, little girls become strong women.

My dreams don’t stop here. I will keep discovering more, learning more and contributing more towards development. The meaning of life is to find our gift; The purpose of life is to give it away. I hope that I keep learning, keep growing and become a reason for many others to believe in the beauty of dreams.

Game Changers – Youth Leaders Transforming Communities Through Sports

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. – Steve Jobs

The ideology of changing and developing lives through football is the core of Slum Soccer’s belief system and to further it,  we have devised a Youth Leadership Programme inspired by the United Nations’ Programme for Youth Development. True to its name, Game Changers is an initiative that is breaking stereotypes and conventions and developing youth through the game of football.

This unique ’F4D’ Program is about Football (Soccer) for Development. There are training sessions specially designed for ground and classroom learning. Various issues and challenges faced by the underprivileged are addressed and direction & guidance are provided to the youth.

The programme is a process that begins with recognising the need areas by surveying slums. A contact person from each area helps Slum Soccer connect with the youth there. They are the ones who help the trainers understand the challenges and problems in that area. After the recognising problem, the potential candidates are chosen and included in this programme.

The programme managers are hopeful about the talent everywhere. They believe that every individual has special qualities; it is important that such individuals are recognised and trained well. They become coaches, trainers or mentors and contribute in developing more lives.

The training comprises of off-field and on-field sessions. It has three levels of development. The level one training means one has completed the basic level, level two is the intermediate stage and level three is advanced. After successfully completing all the three levels, the participants are awarded certificates. The graduated ones (those who have completed three levels) get opportunities to represent India at the international level where countries like Japan, South Korea and Sweden participate.

The training is conducted at three locations in India – Nagpur (headquarter), Mumbai and Delhi. Slum Soccer has successfully connected & developed 1600 youngsters since the inception of the programme about four years ago. The programme is an ideal example of how an untapped talent, when recognised, creates wonderful results.

The learning through football gives participants a good understanding of the sport as well as the issues surrounding them. The concluding day of the programme is a great highlight. The participants get a hands-on experience of what they learnt by providing solutions to real problems. They are guided by the experts to make their solutions more effective.

There is a month’s real time experience period after the training where the participants apply their methods and remedies to issues in their areas. The results have been promising; the difficulties and obstacles have been reduced and we are hopeful of greater progress with every next step.

The topics of study covered in this programme are vast as Leadership Development, Gender Equality, Education, Social Inclusion, Team Building, Equal Opportunity, Soft Skills, Communication and so on. Each topic is handled from it core concept and deeper insights are provided as the training moves ahead. The classroom sessions consist of lectures, video presentations, case studies and role play. This way of learning is a complete learning methodology for development. Truly, Game Changers is about developing lives, making them independent, empowering them to take their own decisions and ultimately lead others from similar circumstances. It takes a team to win the game.

This program is being supported by Sony Pictures Network India.

From Singapore to slums of Nagpur !

Sixteen-year-old Isha Sipahimalani is a football player and a die-hard fan of the sport. A resident of Singapore, her Indian roots keep her connected. Her sensitivity and courage make her work for those who are less privileged.

She came across Slum Soccer’s work of developing underprivileged children through the medium of football. She loved the concept and wanted to be a part of it. She was introduced to Shakti Girls – a real life initiative of empowering girls, a group of passionate woman football players, a symbol of strength and courage.

On February 2 & 3, 2017, Isha visited Slum Soccer in India. Her interest in connecting with the girls took her to their homes & schools, too. She understood the challenges faced by those girls regarding facilities of conveyance and other issues. She has contributed to their development by offering support for their sports kits.

Isha’s interaction with girls was full of energy. She stressed on empowerment and how one should always try to improve and grow in life.

Sport is an amazing medium to grow, to learn and to move towards a higher goal in life. It makes us feel proud the way women are carving a niche in every field and becoming inspirational examples for everyone.

Refereeing towards success: pathways for progress.

Slum Soccer is nurtured on a strong belief of a development system that works inside out. The core of this lies in the lives that have been with us, grown with us and now, lead many others to the right direction.

Once players, these talented individuals have enhanced their decision-making and game skills with appropriate guidance from the mentors, rigorous training sessions and consistent practice of the sport.

A Referee Training Programme was organised on February 5 & 6, 2017 at Slum Soccer Academy, Bokhara in Nagpur. 14 talented players participated in the programme. This event holds a special place of importance, as it is one of its kind and a pioneer to the idea of this initiative.

Homkant Surandase, Anju Turambekar and Andy Hook enlightened the players in a 360-degree approach to training consisting of theory and practice sessions. Homkant Surandase is Slum Soccer’s Program Manager; Anju Turambekar is Grassroots License Instructor of the All India Football Federation (AIFF); and Andy Hook is Development Manager of Street Soccer Scotland. The training concluded with a mini-tournament among 3 Men’s & 3 Women’s teams.

A referee has to effectively manage various areas from making sure that the match is a fair play to favourable ground arrangements & management of the scoreboard. The trainees had a hands-on opportunity to experience all this and a lot more. The training program brought the best in them to light and they went back with more aspirations and a lot of learning.

 

 

National Inclusion Cup (2017) – A Platform to Connect the Grassroots to the World

The National Inclusion Cup for underprivileged youth took place for the first time in Mumbai. It was organised at the Andheri Sports Complex from February 13 to 17, 2017. The 14th edition of the competition for men and 5th edition for women included 24 men’s teams and 16 women’s teams from all over India. It was the first time a men’s team from Nepal was a participant. 

This year, teams from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Vidarbha, Orissa, Gujarat, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh were a part of the tournament.

Popular Bollywood actor and avid football fan Siddharth Malhotra joined the cause and kicked off the tournament. Former Homeless World Cup director Andy Hook of StreetSoccer, Scotland was the tournament director. Anju Turambekar, Grassroots Director, All India Football Federation (AIFF) played the role of referee and oversaw the competition.

“It is a pleasure to inaugurate The National Inclusion Cup. I believe that it is of paramount importance for the underprivileged youth to engage in outdoor activities and there should be equal opportunities available to them everywhere. I am pleased to support such a program that empowers our youth and acts as a catalyst to create a better life for them,” said Malhotra.

Kerala men’s team won their maiden title. Last year’s runners-up team from Jharkhand won the women’s crown. Kerala overpowered Telangana 7-3 after dominating the men’s championship round. R. Gunaalan and M. Mukesh scored three goals each. Best Player Title winner Vignesh completed the tally for the winners, while striker Aiman Ayaz scored the three goals for Telangana. Tamil Nadu beat Vidarbha in the play-off for third and fourth positions.

Jharkhand also dominated the women’s championship round with a 7-2 win over 2014 winners Madhya Pradesh. Sheetal Toppo fired 4 goals, Hemanti Kumari scored 2 and Supriya Menon completed the tally for the winners. Seema Narekar and Nisha Bais scored for Madhya Pradesh. West Bengal beat Assam in the play-off for third and fourth positions.

Earlier, Telangana shocked defending champions Tamil Nadu to enter the men’s final, while Madhya Pradesh stunned West Bengal to enter the women’s final. Telangana edged favourites Tamil Nadu in a 3-2 thriller, via the sudden-death, after the teams were locked 1-1 at half-time and 2-all at full-time where Aiman Ayaz fired a brace for the winners, and Bassan Ahamed scored once in each half for Tamil Nadu in regulation time before Jagadeesh frittered away a last-minute penalty. In the shootout, Jagadeesh’s effort was saved by Telangana’s goalkeeper, before Ahtesham Ali fired the winner.
Results:

Men: National Inclusion Cup 2017

Finals: Kerala 7 beat Telangana 3 (Aiman Ayaz, hat-trick)

Semi-finals:

Kerala 4 (M. Mukesh 2, R. Gunaalan 2) bt Vidarbha 1 (Bharat Chandak)

Telangana 3 (Aiman Ayaz 2, Ahtesham Ali) bt TN 2 (Bassan Ahamed), via sudden-death

Fair Play: Nepal

 

Women: National Inclusion Cup 2017

Finals:

Jharkhand 7 (Sheetal Toppo 4, Hemanti Kumari 2, Supriya Menon) bt MP 2 (Seema Narekar, Nisha Bais)

Semi-finals:

MP 3 (Nisha Bais 2, Alka Nagwanshi) bt West Bengal 2 (Ankona Das, Sucharita Dey)

Jharkhand 6 (Sheetal Toppo 4 (hat-trick), Ankita Kumari 2) bt Assam 2 (Chandni Tirkey, Sheuli Roy)

Fair Play: Tamil Nadu

 

Following the Nationals, 8 players each from men & women’s teams have been selected to represent India at the 15th Homeless World Cup in Oslo, Norway. It will take place from August 29 to September 5, 2017. The selected players will receive intensive coaching, practice and social skills training. Teams from 63 nations come together every year for the World Championship.

National Championship is the witness of growing players, the inclusion of more & more teams every year and a great platform to connect the grassroots to the world.

An Experience of Splendid Performances & Euphoric Energies at Football3 Training Program (Nepal)

Football3 Training Program, organised by Childreach Nepal, was successfully delivered by the coaches Homkant Surandase and Pankaj Mahajan. Both of them were players themselves who with their dedication & efforts, have become coaches. The program commenced on January 25 and was concluded with organising a Football3 Festival for 120 children on January 27,  2017.

The program was so designed as to help them reach various schools of the areas they work in and get familiar with the Football3 concept. The first two days were about explaining them about Football3, how it is played and what social issues one can approach through this concept. The coaches exposed the participants to the components of a session for several times to ensure that they were properly understood.

Later, the participants were divided into five groups and delivered the sessions among themselves. One group experienced being a mediator while the others became participants. The participants gained confidence by understanding the concept after delivering several session and experiencing it as mediators, coaches & team members.

For the final day preparations, participants went on the ground to have a hands-on experience. They made sure that all the tasks, jobs, roles and responsibilities allotted were worked upon properly.

With great energy & passion, the participants didn’t care about the rains & the low temperature and celebrated the festival. The ground was buzzing with activities and excitement as the festival kicked off. Matches were enjoyable as the rules were to be set by the participants. The first four winner teams from each group made it to the semi-finals. The festival concluded with handing out trophies and the Fair Play Award.

The euphoria of the festival left everyone with great memories, encouragement to be a part of many such events and of course, playing more & more football!

UNICEF Training – Physical Education Training at its Best

Physical Education (PE) is a great concept of fitness that begins at the primary school level but is often undervalued. If given the due importance that it deserves, it can be an asset for fitness and healthy living for everyone.

Slum Soccer, in association with UNICEF, Zilla Parishad (ZP, Chandrapur) and District Institute of Educational Training (DIET) has organised a Teachers’ Training Programme for 300 schools of ZP near Nagpur.

The programme is divided into three levels of development – Baseline, Mid-line & End line. It begins with Baseline where the on-going methods of teaching PE are analysed and the need gaps are filled in the training. The Midline & End line surveys help to track the line of development with the resources and training sessions included.

January 16 to 19, 2017 were the days that witnessed the first module of this programme. The scope of this project is limited to the primary section of the schools for now. The trainers and mentors are working on creating training manuals and methods for higher classes.

The District Institute has provided 4 training & monitoring offers (TMO) to work on this project. Slum Soccer’s trainers, along with the 4 TMOs, provide training to the resource persons from each school. The resource persons are responsible for the training of other teachers in their respective schools.

The training consists of structured methods of teaching PE to students. There are various training modules that assure the methodology is a balance between physical education and academic learning. Topics are as vast as safety to staying fit in various circumstances. It is a complete study of healthy living.

An application (app) is created so that the teachers can share the reports of their schools and the data is constantly updated. This helps in evaluation of methods and effectiveness of the programme.

The success of this project will help expand the scope to more than 1 lac schools across Maharashtra and gradually, most other schools in India. Truly, development is a process that requires good resources, undying efforts and a good amount of time of growth.

We are a nation of great strength as our maximum population is young. They are the asset, the resources and the future of our country. Their health and fitness will assure their success in the fields they choose to work in.

It is, as an organisation, a society and a nation, our responsibility to make sure that the youngsters get the best of awareness and education. Like they say, with great power comes great responsibility, we hope that we reach more and more people and our strength empowers them.

Republic Day Celebration – Breaking Gender Stereotypes

On January 26, our Republic Day, children from Slum Soccer’s centres across Nagpur came together and celebrated the day with great enthusiasm. Football tournament was organised and 5 girls & 5 boys teams lighted the ground with their energies.

The tournament aimed at making the environment better and providing girls with an access to the football pitch. The tournament began with naming the teams. After every match, the names had to be changed as the players & teams were reshuffled. Everything went well and our faith in the fact that football plays a vital role of a mediator when there is a conflict between groups was proved again.

The specialty of this tournament was that the teams consisted of an equal number of girls and boys which means there was a 50:50 gender ratio. To form a team of 10 players, 5 boys out of each team were supposed to bring a girl to the ground who had never played football or any sport officially. Though challenging, the work was done well.

Sport is the most productive tool to bring a positive change. The girls who had never played before hesitated initially but played with full zeal once they were on the ground. It is the beauty of soccer; you cease to be a person and become a player irrespective of your gender, background or any other thing that might stop you from playing; you simply surpass every hurdle and become a champion.

After the matches, sessions consisted of awareness regarding environmental issues and our contribution to preserving nature and its elements. It is a law of nature that everything perishes with time, but it is also a law that everything that gets care & nourishment grows well and becomes an asset. It is the same with a person, too. Proper guidance, care, and direction make one a champion.

 

Virendra Chitriv – Goal Posts to Life Goal

The player-turned-coach will be shy to tell you his story, but his aggression on the ground will leave you spellbound. He narrates it with the excitement of a football lover. “I used to roam around streets doing nothing great,” said Virendra who once saw the football ground at Slum Soccer Bokhara Centre and fell in love with it.

Fortunate to have the support of his family for his education and football, he started playing. Deciding to be a player is easy, but making it a practice is a challenge. A sport requires great stamina and consistency. He overcame his habits of addictive materials & gambling for staying fit.

Virendra’s excitement can be seen when he exclaims, “The coaches & mentors in Slum Soccer create players out of ordinary people along with making them better human beings!”

He recollects his training days where his mentors would preach what they practiced. It is said that people learn it better when they have a living example in front of them. “A cycle completes when a player becomes a coach & trains more people,” he says. Teaching is twice learning and for a sportsperson, every opportunity is a chance to learn something new.

Increasing the fascination of players by involving them in fun games & group activities is his way of making practice more interesting. Assurance to female players of their safety is a challenge that he has conquered well. He expanded the team by encouraging players to bring their friends to the ground. The people who were once roaming aimlessly are now playing with passion.

“Concepts like gender equality and leadership are not to be taught, but practiced. You evolve only when others look up to you as an inspiration. We learned while observing our coaches. I aim to grow in experiences and life lessons so that I, too, contribute to creating better lives,” he humbly shares.

There is an amazing thrill in playing the National Tournaments. It is a great chance to play for your team and widen your scope of thinking. Virendra says, “There is a lot to learn. There are strict guidelines, timings & rules involved. You need to put in your best efforts.”

He strongly believes in formal education & its benefits. “Sports and education can go hand in hand. Study well and play even better. Don’t stop, go ahead.” Virendra practices what his mentors have taught him – to help others grow even if it means to stay behind.

There is a lot of learning involved in the steps that take one from being a player to a coach. A person turns into a player and a coach is born out of him as he grows in his game.

Lucky is a man who lives his passion; He is the luckiest whose passion is his life goal. A lover of football, Virendra is living his dream and touching more and more lives to live their passions. For him, Soccer has been a turning point and everything has, since then, turned into his life goal.