A safer society through sports

Noble cause


“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”Muhammad Ali

Sports unite a nation, they unite people and they unite countries. But, this time sports is helping to nurture children from the underprivileged segments of society, helping them to aspire, grow and channelise their energies in something fruitful.

They live in slums, don’t get the best of facilities, their parents work as guards and domestic helps, and if they are lucky they get to study in government-run schools. But, if there is one thing these children from the economically weak sections are focussed on, it is football.

In a laudable effort to help these youngsters realise their dream of playing football TheFootballLink Trust, the social arm of TheFootballLink, a non-profit organisation, is promoting the sport among underprivileged children and youth, both boys and girls. The Trust is taking the sport to areas where children, due to lack of basic facilities are vulnerable to abuse and crime and provide them a ‘football-based’ platform to excel in all spheres of their lives.

A brainchild of Tejendra Khanna, former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, this organisation also imparts vocational training, nurtures the children, trains them to lead a healthy lifestyle – away from the evils of society, like guns, drugs and crime.Nipun Bhalla, assistant manager, TheFootballLink Trust spoke to Metrolife about the work his organisation is doing with underprivileged children. 

“Football is a global phenomena, it has a global appeal. So, through this sport we are helping the social development of these underprivileged children. These kids, who are prone to drugs and other illegal activities come to our centres, play soccer, communicate with others and increase their networking – diverting them from such activities. We also conduct drills and educational presentations on social causes, like how to stay protected from AIDS, etc.”

Currently, more than 600 underprivileged children and youth are participating in regular coaching and games sessions across four centres at Vikaspuri, CR Park, Madhu Vihar and Malviya Nagar. These centres also provide valuable resources to these children, like nutrition and medical camps. Children suffering from any nutritional deficiency are also given vitamins and other diet supplements.

“We conduct Junior League where childrenfrom schools like Delhi Public School, Modern School, etc come and play with children from our centres. The idea is to break the barrier between the rich and the poor. And those who have an edge and show the talent to be better players in future, are sent to trials held by FCBEscola, which gives them scholarships for their professional training,” says Nipun, who himself is a certified grassroot coach by the All India Football Federation.

The other highlight of this organisation, which is inspired by successful international ‘Sports for Development’ models, Child and Youth Development Programme, is the active participation and support of the Delhi Police. 

Rabia Jaffer, programme director, Child and Youth Development Programme, said, “We have constables and Deputy Commissioners of Police as mentors for these children who guide them to stay away from anti-social activities. Also, through our educational presentations, we explain to the children that there is much more to just play soccer, like managing a team, handling its administration, becoming a coach – basically a career out of this sport.”

Commenting on the reaction of the parents, Rabia says, “The parents are definitely happy and relieved. They know that their children are not into drugs and have become disciplined in life.”

“The children have also become very focussed. They know that once they are in a team, they can’t start smoking as it hampers their stamina. And when they are not selected in any team, they would be out of every activity, every promotional activities. It is in a way a kind of punishment for them. So, they follow everything automatically,” says Rabia.

The programme which is based on the active support of parents and government to build a safe and progressive environment for the next generation, also needs support from the community in terms of funds. For those who want to be part of this change can go to www.milaap.org/campaigns/thefootballlink and show their support.

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