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Football is a ‘Hey-Ho’ when your favourite team wins. It brings a gullible smile on the faces of young boys wondering about the footy stunts they could perform to impress people around. And when I saw a 2nd grader in my building dribbling the ball in the lift, I was left amazed. It was but obvious to hear tons and tons of praises about his favorite player CR7. If I were to ask my father about a legend amongst collaborative football team players, hands down he would talk about Messi. Who doesn’t like these enigmatic, meticulous, worship worthy celebrities? Maybe that’s the impact that these game changers make on the post-millennials today. These kids just adore their role models. Not only this, they also observe their moves so keenly, that they are able to recall their kicks and shots with time specifics.

I have worked part time in the Theatre of Dreams as well as the Etihad stadium in Manchester. So if you had asked me the same question a year ago, I would have certainly given a name with some amount of conviction although football was never my favorite sport. That was then, but at this point when you ask me the same, I wouldn’t be sure enough to take even one name amongst the lustrous ones. For now, I have definite ones- Sarfaraz the best defender, Zaheer and Arif the fastest forwards and Rehan the sly midfielder.

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Fearless Zaheer vies for the ball

These are the names of those wizards who proved to me that they had wings on their feet. They are no ordinary kids who go to the best of schools. They are identified as kids from a low-income community in Kandivali West Mumbai. These tiny 8 year olds are nestled in the middle of an ethnically mixed, peaceful, albeit a little dirty (especially when it rains) community. The names mentioned above are the nightmares of a teacher. My lesson plan was sure to bomb on the days that they appear in class. Their passion for this game, changed them for the better. I still get goose bumps when I hear Arif talking in English while playing football with other kids “Didi he play wrong, I take corner”.

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Class backbenchers learn to concentrate through the game

To begin with, we had no trainers, no footy equipment, no ground to practice. All we had was grit, determination and their Didi’s (that’s what they call me) big dream of having a football team. When I floated the idea around my contacts I got a resolve. Within 3 weeks what they got was just 40 hours of dedicated football training with 2 Bhaiya’s (volunteers – working people like you who dedicated 6 hours weekly), football gear which got arranged last minute and courage to play against Mumbai’s leading IB school’ football teams at Sports for All Forum. To put this into perspective, Messi works hard the whole year to deliver a priceless Clasico win. My kids worked just for 3 weeks and they got such unreal results. Imagine what they could do this academic year if they get dedicated weekly training.

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Volunteers committed to train

This does seem like a last minute study plan for an important exam where, you will pass and perhaps with flying colours. Just like in our case where our Real Panda team did reach the Quarter Finals. But the question that haunts my kids and me “Is that it? Well that is the answer I seek from you. Because with every step you take, the ground will rise up to meet you. With each time you adjust your sails, you will make headway in this vast ocean. It is you who can guide them to adjust their sails. And this blog is a way to reach out to you.

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Next week I shall introduce you to Nilesh who improved his reading comprehension skills because of Sports.

PS: They are waiting for you.

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13 thoughts on “Wings on their Feet

  1. This is amazing. Way to go Sreshti! Superbly written. I am definitely up for contributing and helping out from next month! Keep it going, looking forward to the next post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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