A large number of parents settle down in the shade, waiting for their kids to finish their engagements while some others happily cheer them on from the sidelines. It is, to say the least, a soul-lifting sight, watching children learn to work together and compete against their peers.
There's another small bunch of kids whose parents are not around to egg them on or wait to drive them home. These are orphans from Paharganj's Salaam Balak Trust which works with street children. For these kids, it's a chance to mingle and play with school-going children of their own age. "The idea is to make football accessible to all, particularly the poor," says Indian Youth Soccer Association (IYSA) trustee Arup Das. So there are schemes that are aimed at the poor in the metros, towns and large villages throughout India. The aim is to promote soccer, and develop the image of players and officials as caring people dedicated to the sport and the poor. "We've found that bringing football to the poor is inexpensive and easily organised in collaboration with reputable NGOs," adds Das.
Hence the collaboration with the Salaam Balak Trust. "We've devised weekly soccer sessions for its inmates. We provide expertise, training and coaching inputs and the ngo provides the space and volunteers to referee matches. In the long term, we want to merge our two initiatives so that school and street kids can play together," says Das. As a non-profit educational trust, the iysa mission is to "foster physical, mental and emotional growth and development of India's youth through soccer," adds Das. "Our job is also to make it fun and instil in young players a lifelong passion for the sport. We promote fair play and offer leadership in the development of youth soccer."
According to him, the IYSA recognises that soccer has been neglected by schools and football organisations. It also believes there is a need to give children an opportunity to enjoy the game. "The IYSA aims to provide a fun, safe and healthy game for all kids—rich and poor, boys and girls. Those in government schools, private schools and the millions who spend their childhood out of school. It's for those who want to play for fun, compete at the highest level or just play for one season, or even for a lifetime."
Of course, as is usual with such initiatives, there are setbacks. Children who appeared to have taken to the game have run away from the Salaam Balak Trust. Plus, for some reason, IYSA has had to focus on central Delhi rather than expand its reach. Sadly, neither the Delhi Soccer Association nor the All India Football Federation has had the time to even take a cursory look at the IYSA project that has the potential to spark off a major movement. But it soldiers on, unmindful of the lack of interest.
Even if you've never been inclined to play the game, take your child to Thyagaraj Stadium to soak in the sheer fun. Sania Mirza may be the flavour of the season and the Indian cricketers may be regaining their places in the hearts of their fans. Yet hundreds of kids are voting with their feet, in a rather different sense. In its own way, IYSA has used the game to help make a difference to society and perhaps to some lives at large. Indeed, it is worth kicking that ball.
Arup Das can be contacted at: India Youth Soccer Association, G-4, 2nd Floor, South Extension Part II, New Delhi—110 049, Tel: 011-20513859, 51641450, 9810521312, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT