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If you can dream it, you can do it. 4 talented young football players are going to France to participate in the Street Football World Festival courtesy Dream a Dream and this is their story.
It is the combination of a dream and hard work that eventually fuels the way to the stars! Navnita, Manoj, Harshita and Arbaz are such dreamers, who will be able to take their talent to new heights through hard work and determination. These 4 talented young football players from vulnerable backgrounds have put tremendous efforts in achieving the opportunity of going to France to participate in the Street Football World Festival in 2016.
According to Dasra’s report Power of Play, one in three children enrolled in school do not reach grade 10; one in every four adolescent girls is married and 70% employers find Indian youth unemployable despite a degree. Through its research, Dasra establishes that there is a significant impact of free play in childhood on improved academic achievement among children. Sports is a cost-effective tool that promotes healthy behaviour, encourages education, fosters gender equality, enhances inclusion and fuels overall economic development. Organizations such as Dream a Dream leverage after-school art and sports programs to help children develop life skills, enhance youth’s ability to gain and retain employment.
The Street Football World Festival is an official event of the Euro 2016 which is to be held in Lyon, France, a well-designed sports initiative which can play a critical role in enabling a child’s overall development.
Navnita, from class 9, studying in Shubhodini English High School, was always interested in sports and outdoor activity, but an opportunity to follow her true dream came her way only when she changed school. When Navnita joined a new school, she did not like it at all – especially because it seemed congested and did not even have a ground to play in. That was until she was introduced to the Dream a Dream after-school program. As a part of the program, when children were asked to opt between creative arts and sports, she naturally chose football even though she had never played the game before. But she enjoyed being trained and diligently followed every word of instruction given by Pallavi (One of the facilitators at Dream a Dream). Navnita recalls how she worked hard and did not stop the exhausting training even though the other children used to drop in the middle of the training.
It was this diligence that led to Navnita mastering the skills of playing the game. She soon realised changing her school was probably one of the best decisions she had taken. Navnita says that when Pallavi made a mention of children being selected to go to France to represent the country she was even more interested and worked really hard towards it. Today, an excited Navnita says, “I love football! Generally learning a game like football means paying huge fees. But Dream a Dream’s program gave me an opportunity to learn the game and use my potential. I think everyone must use it! I am so happy to be seeing another country for the first time because of my love for the game. I want to learn their culture, interact with people there and be a key part of the festival!”
Navnita who stays along with her mother, an older sister and brother and a younger brother ends the conversation by saying her family cannot stop gushing about her achievements and have been telling just about everyone they know about the great opportunity she has got. Being a part of the Street Football Festival at France is a dream come true ways the girl so committed towards the game.
Navnita’s favourite football player is Ronaldinho and she likes him because of the extraordinary skills he brings to the field. Navnita dreams of becoming a pilot engineer.
Manoj lives in Bengaluru along with his parents, younger brother and his aunt’s son. His father is an auto driver and his mother works in the accounts division of a courier office. His cousin works as a delivery boy, while his younger brother studies in class 9. Manoj himself is studying in Class 10.
He has been playing football since 4 years now. Initially, he did not like football because he could never control the ball. But he took that up as a challenge and decided to train and then there was no looking back. He began to love the game and also found a change within himself as his love for the sport began to increase. Manoj says he found a marked difference in himself once he started focussing on football. Always weak in reading because he could not concentrate, Manoj feels his power to concentrate has increased which in turn has helped him focus and improve on his reading abilities.
A Liverpool fan, this young boy also likes car racing and adores Michael Schumacher. With dreams in his eyes he hopes to become an engineer and graduate from IIT.
Talking about the event itself Manoj says he heard about the Street Football Festival in France through his facilitator. He diligently participated in all the challenges meant to test his football skills like running, ball control and tackling so that he could qualify.
Manoj says, “I was thrilled to have passed the tests. I think it is a big opportunity and I am so very glad. Last year a boy from our school was sent to Brazil and I wanted to do something similar. We are representing India and that according to me is the biggest opportunity of my life.” He adds, “My mum and brother are encouraging me to really practice hard. Football is my passion and I want to come back and form a school team where interested children will come to learn the game together.”
Harshitha, studying in class 10th, from Stella Mary’s School lives with her parents and an older brother. Her father is unable to go to work as he is unwell and her mother works in the garments factory.
Vocal about her thoughts Harshitha tells, “Girls are hardly involved in sports. I want to be an inspiration to other girls so that they come out and play games like football. I have been lucky my mother encouraged me to do what I want. But I know if a lot of girls even in our class who cannot play because parents do not allow them. I want to show them that we can move ahead not just through studies, but through an interest in sports too”
This Ronaldo fan says she cannot wait to go to France. She adds, “I want to see how others make use of this sport and come back and do the same here.”
15 year-old Arbaz Pasha is a part of a 5 member family and his father works as an auto driver. This boy who likes cricket and football is overjoyed to be a part of the team going to France for the Street Football Festival. When he began playing the game 5 years ago, he was a novice but thanks to attention and guidance given by his coach he began to show more interest and discipline in learning the game. Arbaz says, apart from discipline, the game has taught him to be positive in life. With aspirations of becoming a police officer, Arbaz is super excited to be a part of the festival.
Dream a Dream is an organisation that uses sports and art to impart life skills. The Bengaluru-based non profit has engaged over 5,500 youth through its After School Life Skills Program. There is a positive correlation between sport and improved academic achievement, which leads to enhanced classroom behaviour. Further, sports has shown to be an effective medium of developing skills. You can find more about them and their after school programme in the video.
These four children were chosen from Dream a Dream’s after school football program through a series of competitions and has given them an opportunity to represent India at the Street Football Festival. They have mastered the game through their sheer determination and dedication and consider the game as a turning point in their life. Their aim is to reach new heights to showcase their talents and inspire other underprivileged children. Dream A Dream is helping these children to achieve their dreams by raising money with Impact Guru, a social online crowdfunding platform. For more details you can visit our website- http://www.impactguru.com/dream-a-dream-football