Slum Dog Soccer!

Outlook magazine published in April a story about a young man named Akhilesh Pal. He appeared like a regular twenty years old boy born in Nagpur slums with no hopes. It was Vijay Barse a senior sports coach whose encouragement set off wings for him and the young slum lads. Vijay was clever enough to offer Rs 30 and a football, tempting the gang of boys to start playing. The boys played for an hour that day.

It is with Vijay’s encouragement that the slum kids took up the game. Looks like the move was an attempt to involve these slum kids into the sport, but most importantly, to keep them off crime and drugs. Football is an easy Indian sport for the poor slum kids for all that they need is a ball to play. In 2001, the first slum football tournament was held in which 128 slum teams took part. According to last census in 2001, the slum-dwelling population of India had risen from 27.9 million in 1981 to 61.8 million in 2001.The Indian team of slum kids participated in the annual Homeless World Cup. Guess who represented football club India team at the World Cup held in Rio de Janeiro in 2010–Akhilesh Pal. 🙂

Akhilesh now works in a chemist’s store and coaches children from Nagpur’s red-light area. A small move by Vijay Barse is all it took to inspire a positive change and make a difference.

Sanjay Puri

This entry was posted in In the News, Personal and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.