Sunday, July 15, 2012

Eurocup and Rising Stars

Recently the Manav Sadhna football program watched the Eurocup final together. The children were very impressed by Spain, their idol team. Watching the match also made them think of and miss Joserra-sir and Jesus-sir, two of their very beloved coaches from Spain. To congratulate them on a clinical victory, the kids put together this tribute video.

Joserra and Jesus, we miss you! Come home soon!

The MS football program is going great. Now with the solid commitment of Rahulbhai and other karyakartas, we have about 40 kids playing regularly. Recently some of the older kids left to focus on studies, so a new batch of ~8 really raw young ones have joined. We practice with all the kids once a week on Sundays, and the individual teams (4 teams from 4 slums) self-organize practices several other days of the week. While this keeps them interested and passionate about the game, one practice a week with a coach isn't enough to take them beyond casual playing. And now we are beyond the point of just teaching them the game. The more committed and skilled players need a way to improve and have new goals to shoot for. Just because I can only give three hours a week doesn't mean that it is enough. The kids need more, and they deserve more.

This Sunday we were at Kahaani grounds, and Manishaben, the coordinator, generously offered to help us step up the program. We will now have three practices a week where our kids get to work with a Kahaani coach. Two practices at MS, and a weekly Sunday morning practice at the Kahaani grounds. We will also collect birth certificates and school documents to start entering our kids in tournaments and try-outs. Even if they don't make it, they will get exposure to better competition on better fields, which will raise their own ceiling. Sometimes I feel that practicing in the narrow dirt area in the Gandhi Ashram has literally and figuratively put a cap on our kids' potential. The space is so small, they can only work on a part of the game. And they only have space to dream small.

There is a nation-wide soccer talent search being put in by Airtel currently, where they will send some of South Asia's promising young footballers to train at Manchester United's academy. The commercials are very catchy, they really fired me up and reminded me of my days.

It would be my dream to have one or more of our kids make it.

1 comment:

  1. Great video! Heard so much about this program so it's nice to see some faces.