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KKMF Finals: A day of unforgettable memories and joyous triumphs

Delhi-based Khel Khel Mein Foundation had its final league day of the 2015/16 season at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex on 7th February.

Three zones, five venues, 99 days and 777 matches later the second season of the Khel Khel Mein Foundation’s (KKMF) league came to its conclusion last Sunday, 7th February, at the Thyagraj Sports Complex.

Like most success stories, the league’s journey goes further back than the first league day on 1st November. It all began when volunteers of KKMF, designated “sports mentors”, started visiting the Teach for India (TFI) schools to help kids learn and understand the nuances of football, kho-kho and surr (a traditional Indian game).

The mentors, in collaboration with the TFI fellows, focused not just on the playing part, but also doing so in the right spirit. In fact, to make fair play an integral part of the whole structure, all the matches were assigned technical points as well as fair play points. And to really drive home the point, the kids – not their teachers or their mentors – were the ones deciding how many points were to be assigned for fair play during the league games.

After the first eight league days, which included a play-off towards the end of January, 24 teams made it to the final, and we had 13 champions across all three sports – football, kho-kho, and surr, divided into two age groups: Under-11 and Under-14, and between boys and girls teams.

All smiles after the games
All smiles after the games

The final was a culmination of the devoted efforts of team KKMF, TFI fellows and their school kids, as they would take time out of their regular school schedule and practice to improve their game. 

Anchra Madan, whose team comprising of Under-14 girls emerged champions in surr after a fierce battle, and runners-up in football, shares her thoughts: “Being a sportsperson I always wanted kids from my school to play and learn the values that come through playing sports, things that cannot be taught in a classroom through books.

“We organised regular practice after school and it not just included the playing part but also pre-match discussions, strategy making and then post-match reflections.

The football tournament being conducted
The football tournament being conducted

“When it came to team selection many cried on missing the bus, but most of them ultimately realised that it’s the team which matters, and they happily cheered their team-mates in the finals.

“Watching them grow through sports has made us (my school team and I) feel very proud and satisfied as we met the purpose of introducing them to sports”, she concludes.

Many great stories of triumph and bravery trickled through the final day as the kids gave it their all to emerge champions, without crossing the boundaries of fair play in their quest to gain an upper hand over their rivals.

Nilav Pyne, a TFI fellow who teaches school students in Jahangirpuri as well as community kids from the region, recalls a couple of such stories: “There was a point when we thought that our kids might lose hope in the face of defeat and that also deterred our spirits. 

“I remember how Sonia wanted to be substituted right after our team conceded a goal in the 2nd minute of the final, or how Kajal played with all her might for those last six minutes in the kho-kho final despite being drained and exhausted. 

The participants had a wonderful time at the games
The participants had a wonderful time at the games

“They, however, stood their ground and played till their feet allowed them to. And that is the beauty of sports which was witnessed on the final day of the KKM league. The children’s stories of courage and resilience that were on display will motivate us as teachers and learners.”

Girls from Nilav’s school went on to win U-14 football competition and finished runners up in U-14 kho-kho. 

The day ended with not just hoisted trophies and medals around necks, but also a lifetime of unforgettable memories. Tears of triumph as well as of agony were shed, but everyone went home richer for the experience. Teams went home basking in their well-earned glory as well as with the resolve and determination to do one better next time.

However, none of it would have been possible without the tireless efforts of team KKM, which took on the mammoth undertaking and made the herculean task possible.

Anriban Ghosh, one of the co-founders of KKM, reflects: “Organising a league on such a huge scale has always been a mammoth undertaking. 

“There are so many aspects to a league, and to ensure quality amidst it all involves a lot of work. The league days and matches are just a quarter of the whole work. Scheduling, scoring, referee orientation, maintaining quality of facilitation, medical support teams and so many other factors come into play.

“Moreover, organising such a huge league needs a lot of resources – financial as well as human resources. KKM league has always been run by a committed team of volunteers and mostly individual donors.

“I guess there will be very few leagues (if any) across the country that are run entirely by volunteers and contributions from friends and well-wishers.”

The next season is set to start in July 2016
The next season is set to start in July 2016

Team KKM is not willing to rest on their laurels just yet and have big ideas for the future, as Anirban shares his team’s vision: “We are planning to span out the league by further segregating it into smaller clusters, localised matches, and invite community participation in organising such leagues. 

“We intend to nurture traditional games like kho-kho and surr and bring more alternative/lost sports to the masses. 

“Our next league season will be starting in July 2016 and will continue until February next year. The league, as always, will be themed upon addressing strong social challenges and biases”, he concludes.

If you wish to be a part of the Khel Khel Mein Foundation, do drop them a line at contact@kkmfoundation.org. Make sure to follow their activities at https://www.facebook.com/TOKKMF/, https://twitter.com/tokkmf, or https://www.instagram.com/tokkmf/.

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