Friday 08 November 2019, 05:01

Slum Soccer creating dreams in India

  • Slum Soccer is changing lives for some of India’s most marginalised people

  • “All we ask them to do is kick a ball - that simple act is therapeutic in itself”

  • FIFA Foundation provides support to the organisation

“Slum Soccer exists to foster sustainable development within otherwise marginalised populations of India. We believe that sport and football inherently offer a transferrable set of skills for social development; through team building, acceptance and discipline. All we ask them to do is kick a ball. That simple act is therapeutic in itself.”

It is a simple philosophy but one that India’s Slum Soccer programme, which is backed by FIFA Foundation, has been successful in achieving. Over the past decade Slum Soccer has impacted positively upon some 70,000 young people across much of the second-most populace nation on the planet.

What started as simple weekend sessions developed into fully fledged football coaching camps, educational and healthcare workshops and societal development programmes. Typical participants come from some of India’s most marginalised communities, including the homeless, recovering addicts, slum-dwelling children and the like. Slum Soccer works in multiple areas with various specialised programmes including for young girls, deaf children and young leaders.

Such has been Slum Soccer’s impact, the programme was named winner of the inaugural FIFA Diversity Award in 2016.

Football has the power to change lives, and Slum Soccer has countless living examples of such.

Slum Soccer participant Nikhil Fuse is just one such example: “I have been excluded, neglected and disrespected by my own community just because I am not like them,” he said. “Football has offered me a route out of this adversity.

“Now I am more self-confident and have acquired the knowledge of how to conduct a good football session. I am definitely not the best footballer but I am now changing the game in my community.”