Football is medium of instruction here

Football enjoys an enduring relationship with Bengaluru, even if it is sometimes eclipsed by cricket. Many organisations are encouraging children to take up football, using it to impart life lessons and skills.

Adhip Bhandary, academy technical director, Bangalore Youth Football League, says, “We work with NGOs. Respect for everyone on and off the field, discipline, and hygiene are some lessons we impart.”

A debriefing follows every session. “The coach and his students sit together to reflect. By highlighting what happened during the training, the coach imparts life skills,” says Bhandary.

Football is the most widely played sport in the world. It is a team sport and requires little equipment, he explains. “We have 200 kids from the age of three-and-a-half to 18,” Bhandary says.

Vikas Plakkot, co-founder of Just For Kicks, another organisation promoting football, says, “We have built our curriculum in such a way that each lesson helps develop a certain life skill.”

The idea, he says, is not to make a child an athlete but one who can succeed emotionally and socially. Honesty, integrity, and respect are among the life skills the NGO focuses on.

Sparky Football, an organisation doing similar work, was born when a footballer was disheartened by India losing a match to a club.

India played Bayern Munich, a football club in Germany, in 2012. This was also Bhaichung Bhutia’s farewell match, and lost.

The result left a deep impact on Tejas R, a passionate footballer. “I thought about what I could do with all my experience. The only solution was to train children,” says Tejas.

He studied football culture in India and Europe, and noticed the game was still seen as recreational in most academies here.

“The fact that they don’t allow children to play football wearing shoes --as they want to maintain the grass--was also disappointing,” he says.

From tying shoelaces to scoring goals, children at the academy learn many skills. Tejas is the founder and director of Sparky Football. “We work with underprivileged children, orphanages, slum communities and HIV communities,” he says.

He has seen the game enhancing the children’s quality of life. “Many have stopped smoking, drinking and doing drugs. They started attending school and now speak better English,” he says.

Social inclusion, empathy, humility and courage are important aspects of training at Sparky Football.

Rebels Foundation in Vasant Nagar also strives to empower lives through football.

Kavya Ananth, its founder, says, “It is an easy game, and can be played by anyone. After cricket, football is the game most popular among youngsters.”

Some parents hesitate to send their children to train, fearing their studies will be affected. “Parents still feel sports can’t secure a child’s future. That is a little discouraging,” she says.

Where children train
Bangalore Youth Football League, Yelahanka, Whitefield, Shivananda Circle and JP Nagar: 9066068181
Just for Kicks, Whitefield, Varthur and Majestic: 9986297261
Sparky Football, Kothanur, JP Nagar and Cox Town: 9986599525
Rebels Foundation, Devanahalli: 9916607794


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