No vain Rooneys, but play the Jogo Bonito

20 boys are growing up on a diet of football on a dusty ground in Kolar

No vain Rooneys, but  play the Jogo Bonito

From villages of the drought-affected district, the 20 boys are inmates of the Sports Hostel School here, run by the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs.

Students of 5th or 6th standards, the boys have been playing football for the last five months under the watchful eyes of trainer Naseer.

Up by 5 in the morning, the children play football for two hours from 6 am. They attend the school during the day, breaking off by four to prepare for two more hours of football between 4.30 and 6.30 in the afternoon.

Protein-rich diet

To cope with the rigorous training, they are  given protein-rich food that includes eggs and meat.

The hostel has a television and cable connection so that the enthusiastic students can watch the World Cup matches and draw inspiration from the great international players. The boys will receive free training in football, or basketball if they prefer, as long as they are students of the Sports Hostel School.

Aware of the district having been a nursery of footballers and basketballers who went on to represent Karnataka and India, the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs has suggested to the Sports Hostel, Kolar to focus on the two games.

Many of the taller boys, who may prefer to play basketball, will be encouraged to take up the court game.

In their blue jerseys and shorts, the young footballers draw awed attention among the hundreds of children who play cricket in the district stadium.

Most of the children are from the Veerapura in Kolar Kodikannuru in Srinivaspura as well as Bangarpet and Malur taluks. Many do not meet the qualifying mark of 145 cm in height, and the talent hunt continues to find taller boys.

While they may not be tall enough, their enthusiasm is sky high.

Goalkeeper in the making

“Everyone in my village plays cricket. After joining the Sports Hostel, I am playing football. My parents want me to be a goalkeeper and I will work hard to become one,” says Manoj Kumar of Veerapura, whose delight at playing the beautiful game is evident in his face.
The enthusiasm for playing the most popular game in the world is infectious among them who have begun nursing dreams of playing for the country.

High-octane football

Watching for the last three weeks the high-octane football dished out by stars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Forlan, Kaka and Robinho has made the children more enthusiastic and keen on the game. 

“After they began watching the FIFA World Cup matches in South Africa, they are more enthusiastic about the game,” Umalakshmi, Assistant Director, Sports and Youth Affairs, told Deccan Herald.

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