It will not be an overstatement if we call him a teenager with the courage of a thirty-year-old man. It is since about half a year that Constantin Masch, fondly called ‘Consti’, Slum Soccer’s German family member, is volunteering in India.
After completing his class XII examination, he realised he wants to get more out of life before pursuing further studies. While searching for opportunities to discover something more, he got connected to the German NGO that is associated to Slum Soccer. Completely fascinated by the concept of Slum Soccer, he decided to be a part of it.
Not looking back since then, Constantin’s every experience is a value addition to his journey. He is involved in various tasks and has taken up the responsibility to equip the young players with English, social media, coaching & helping them whenever they need. He constantly captures moments, through his lens, that become great memories.
Belonging to a different nation & language barriers did not really make a difference to his working. For him & everyone he meets, Football is a medium of communication; and there always is the sign language, which brings them, closer.
Initial hesitation did not stop him from connecting to everyone. His upbringing was different; he belonged to another culture but took a little time to be a part of the new one he was introduced to. He adopted the ways, the behaviours & living style of Indians. “I feel proud and happy when people call me ‘half-Indian’,” Constantin experienced changes in his personality; he became more open and flexible.
What he loves about Indian culture is the openness with which it accepts everyone & all feel included. He never felt any less than a citizen of this country. He finds Indians welcoming, caring & easy going. “It is heartwarming when a stranger smiles at you!” he says.
Constantin’s mother was worried when her son told her about his aspiration to volunteer in India for a while, but the contentment of her child was more important to her and Constantin’s whole family provided their 100% support to his decision.
“Slum Soccer is my Indian family. It feels like home. I have my big & little brothers here. I have my children here.” He talks about his students whom he dearly calls his ‘children’. He plans on earning when he goes back to Germany & sending tickets to his Indian friends so they can experience his country, too. That maturity & sense of including all comes to him naturally.
Football is his passion. “You know why Slum Soccer is working as it is working or why is it successful as it is successful? It is because it develops you through this universal sport. So many people from so many backgrounds come together and play. It is beautiful. It is special!” He says.
Constantin’s favourite quote from German is also a great thought to remember always. Du kannst nur gewinnen oder lernen (you can only win or learn). Truly, there are no failures in life, only lessons that make us more human.
The experience of the grassroots has taught Constantin many things. He appreciates simple joys in life, “I have learned to be more patient. I will never feel higher than anyone in life. I treat them equal.” He feels it is important to adapt to your surroundings and accept the conditions, contribute to changes. When asked as to how will he describe this experience to everyone out there, he says, “Be a part of it! Adopt the culture!”
We all are the same; whichever culture, community, region or belief we belong to, we all are the same. Sport is a beautiful medium to unite us all, to bring that feeling of belongingness irrespective of our backgrounds.
Consti has learned Hindi from his Indian friends. He says, “I actually feel ‘main achha hun’ when I reply to ‘how are you? Hindi sounds beautiful.” When asked if he wants to say one sentence in Hindi what would that be, he exclaims, “Mujhe Bharat bohot bohot pasand hai!”
Constantin will stay for a while in India and return to Germany for studying further. He will take with him beautiful & enriching experiences & lessons, some more dreams and lots of memories in his heart. Like they say, he will leave a ‘best part’ of himself here, to which, he will keep coming back again and again.