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Homeless World Cup Foundation and Slum Soccer: The India Story

Football may not be the first sport that springs to mind when we think of India, but Homeless World Cup national partners Slum Soccer have been using football as a tool of engagement with homeless and marginalised young people for over a decade now an...

Football may not be the first sport that springs to mind when we think of India, but Homeless World Cup national partners Slum Soccer have been using football as a tool of engagement with homeless and marginalized young people for over a decade now and have become established as a leading figure in the Sport and Development field in India.

“What started as simple weekend sessions in 2001, reaching out to 10 children, using football as a tool for social improvement and empowerment has bloomed into fully fledged football coaching camps, educational and healthcare workshops and societal development programmes, bringing a positive influence to the lives of nearly 70,000 men, women and children in over 63 districts all around the country.” (Slum Soccer Annual Report 2011-12).

Slum Soccer and Homelessness in India

The second most populous nation in the world, India has a population of well over a billion people. 170 million people live on the streets and 260 million people (a group almost equivalent in size to the entire population of the USA) live on less than a dollar a day.

Slum Soccer engages homeless and marginalized people through football, providing them with not just the physical, social and psychological benefits of playing a sport, but with access to health and hygiene care and information.

Taking part in regular football sessions provides a simple framework for homeless people to develop a new way of life, with structures and goals – a platform for a better future.

When a homeless person gets involved in football they communicate and build relationships with others; they become teammates, learning to trust and share; they have a responsibility to attend training sessions and games, to be on time and prepared to participate. They feel part of something.

Here an interview I had done in July 2011 with Abhijeet Barse from Slum Soccer in Berlin, Germany.

Published with permission from Arunava Chaudhuri.

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