GameChangers: Youth leaders transforming communities through Sports!

GameChangers :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 to develop 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 with a certificate. 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 Nisha 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, Nisha 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.

Nisha’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.

Men: National Inclusion Cup 2017

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


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


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


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.

Constantin Masch – German to Half-Indian

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.

A journey from ‘Player’ to ‘Young Leader’

‘Slum Soccer takes you from being something to being someone in life.’ Shubham Patil, Slum Soccer’s twenty-something Coach & Young Leader will tell you. You can feel, in his voice, the passion for football and the dedication & love for Slum Soccer.

Back in 2004, Shubham would, like most other boys in his locality, squander his time & energy into gambling & likes. Some of his friends & relatives would go to the ground to play football. He happened to join them once and was completely mesmerised by the amazing sport that soccer is.

He continued for some months & had to halt for a while due to injury. His friends would narrate the euphoria of playing the matches & their experience of visiting Nagpur every now and then. He realised that he was missing on something really interesting and went back to it the soonest he could.

He gives credit of his development via football to his Coach Umesh Deshmukh & Trainer Ankit Anand. Shubham says, “They taught me ‘life’ through football.” He learned the meaning of words like ‘gender equality’ & ‘leadership’ in real life because of his mentors.

He discontinued studies for some time. His coach, trainer & his friends managed to encourage him to join school again. Since he was in middle school, he was addicted to consuming tobacco & would smoke. When he started playing regularly, his stamina was affected because of these habits. He gradually got rid of these habits with the help of his mentors and now helps change many such lives. Since three years, he has not touched any of the addictives.

While learning, his skills developed and his game enhanced. Now he leads a team of 14 girls & 17 boys. He made some on-ground rules of behaviour like not consuming addictives, which helped the players get rid of those habits & perform better.

Understanding the difficulties faced by women players, he devised ways to help them leave their inhibitions behind. From convincing the parents of the girls about their safety to encouraging the girls to play football with boys, he had to go length & breath of coaching to create the team he is heading.

Shubham’s learning on gender equality from his mentors has all been useful along with the leadership skills he developed. Life lessons he learnt have made him a magnificent player, a worthy coach & a better human being.

His euphoria is clearly visible when he recollects memories of his national & international tournaments. He never believed he could qualify for the Homeless World Cup as the selection process is quite challenging. Rigorous training sessions & constant practice lead to his selection. He was the youngest player in his team.

He expresses his hesitation as it was his first international tournament; there were language barriers, everything was unknown and he felt he would not be able to compete with such great teams.

He describes how your enthusiasm reaches to the peak when your country’s National Anthem is played in the stadium. “There is a different kind of zeal & passion to play when you are representing your nation on an international platform,” says Shubham.

Shubham is nostalgic & excited to share his story. He remembers how life has taken him from being ‘nothing’ to ‘someone’ who is now a life changer. As they say, teaching is twice learning, Shubham is shaping lives and setting an example how a change in your approach & habits can take you to the greater things in life.

After all, life gets it’s meaning when we take a step forward to change things for better, for us and for so many others.