Football has made me a confident individual and a team leader, which has helped me be stronger in difficult times,” -Kullayappa, ASA U15 Football team.
The Anantapur Football League (AFL) has had a meteoric rise since its inception in 2014 in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. AFL now in its fifth season, recorded the highest participation with a total of 2143 children – 1406 boys and 737 girls actively registered for the 5-month long tournament.
Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) is a sport for development organization reaching close to 11,000 underprivileged children in rural Andhra Pradesh.
ASA football program’s priority has been sport for development with a view towards promoting football at the grassroots level in the rural district of Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, India. The objective is to provide children without previous access to sports with the facilities and equipment to play on a regular basis. Special emphasis is placed on gender equality and the involvement of girls has been constantly increasing every year.
At the start of 2018, La Liga and La Liga Foundation ASA announced its partnership with the ASA football program. The partnership has led to significant contributions towards grassroots football in Anantapur by providing equipment such as footballs, gloves, jerseys, shoes and other training material to 20 Mandal (Community) football clubs that are part of the AFL.
Earlier this year, Real Betis women’s team Captain Irene Guerrero visited Anantapur and interacted with female players and coaches of the football program. Through La Liga’s continued support, the AFL has been able to successfully expand its network to remote areas in Anantapur district and the numbers speak for themselves. In just one year, the number of girls playing football in the program has tripled, with an incredible 294% increase in participation.
In its bid to engage with the community, ASA has also used the AFL as a platform to train local volunteers as coaches and referees. The organization has trained 25 referees over the last five years by educating them on the laws of the game and decision making through refresher courses and workshops.
Dada Khalandar, the Football Academy Manager at ASA stated, “Volunteer coaches have had an instrumental hand in the running of the Anantapur Football League. They have been able to mobilize players in Anantapur which has led to the increase in participation of football.”
ASA envisages to continuing expanding the football program, bridging the gender gap, engaging the community and providing all children in the district their “Right to Play”.