Interview with Parikrma founder Shukla Bose: "PCL was started to help our children showcase their football skills"
Parikrma Humanity Foundation is an NGO that runs four schools for the underprivileged. The foundation was founded by Mrs. Shukla Bose in 2003. Parikrma, since its creation, has become a force in the sporting arena, especially in football. 2014 marks the fourth edition of the Parikrma Champions League, and this year’s tourney will involve 16 schools from Bangalore, Kerala and Goa. It is an invitational tournament presented by Menzies Aviation and is for the best under-16 teams.
Mrs. Shukla Bose was kind enough to sit down and talk about this edition of the PCL.
Thank you for sitting down with me today. I know that as a school, Parikrma has always given equal importance to both academics and sports. Why did you feel that so much focus on sports was important for the students of Parikrma?
I believe that sports is not just an extracurricular activity, but is rather a part of the core curriculum and should be integrated into the regular curriculum along with Maths, the sciences, English etc. By keeping sports as an optional activity or as something reserved for a few students, I think we have done a great injustice not just to sports, but also to the students’ overall development.
Therefore, since I had this opportunity to develop a curriculum for these extremely deserving students who have rarely had the opportunities they deserve, I thought why not create it the way I believe that it should be done. The parents of our students are happy that their children are happy and also that a lot of disruptive behaviour exhibited at home in the slums has been channelized into sport, and so, they do not question our choice of curriculum structure.
So, we capitalized on this unique opportunity to really help in the children’s overall development, for which sports is so key.
Coming to the Parikrma Champions League, what was the idea behind starting the tournament and what were its objectives?
The Parikrma Champions League was started about three years ago because in spite of how good our children were at football, we weren’t being invited to many upmarket, mainstream tournaments because I suppose students of those schools didn’t want to play with children from the slums; where our children came from became far more important than what they could do on the field.
Earlier, I would call the Principals of other schools to ask them if children from Parikrma could play in their tournaments and while they would never say no directly, they would never get back to me. Eventually, we decided that we didn’t want to be dependent on other schools to give our children an arena to showcase their skills, and so, we started this tournament.
Do you think that today, going into the fourth edition of the PCL, those objectives have been met?
Absolutely! Now those schools that previously never invited us are clamouring to be invited to our tournament. However, I don’t think it is a matter of prestige, but rather the real players feeling valued and being treated like professionals. In addition, they have great fun at the PCL, both on and off the field, and now more students seem to be trying to get their school administrations to try and get them invited to come and compete for the Equality Cup.
What is it that makes the PCL such a special event?
This is a very different event because all players and schools compete for the ‘Equality Cup’ because we believe that everyone is equal at the finish line. We invite schools therefore, not looking at how high a fee they charge, but rather based on how good their football team is.
Every year, Parikrma amps up the tournament. What if anything, is new this year?
This year after successfully conducting three very high quality tournaments, we at PCL have decided to go beyond just being event coordinators to being statesmen of sorts. This year, we are going to have not only the players, but also the coaches of various schools sign a pledge that they will be expected to follow; their conduct will be monitored by us throughout the event. This pledge will be submitted to the Sports Minister, who will be coming to inaugurate the event.
Last year, the team from Parikrma made it to the semi-finals of the PCL. How do you think they will perform this year?
To be honest, I have been so busy organising the event that I really haven’t been very involved in the team’s preparation! I do hope they will do well, though that doesn’t really matter to me. It doesn’t matter how they finish, but rather what is important to me is that all the teams have a great experience at the tournament.