One World Futbol Plays at the Slum Soccer Homeless World Cup
Posted by Stephen Sonderman on 05/19/14
Last month, I represented One World Futbol Project at the Slum Soccer Homeless World Cup in Nagpur, India. The three-day event hosted by Slum Soccer was one step of many to assemble the team representing India at the 2014 Homeless World Cup in Santiago, Chile, later this year. In addition to the event festivities, One World Futbol Project launched an official partnership with Slum Soccer by donating and distributing 22,500 Chevrolet One World Futbols to youth participants.
One World Futbol Project first connected with Slum Soccer through CEO Dr. Abhijeet Barse, a multi-sportsman, a former university-level basketball player and son of Slum Soccer Founder Dr. Vijay Barse.
A Family Affair
Slum Soccer, also known as Krida Vikas Sanstha, started when Dr. Vijay Barse saw a few kids kicking a broken bucket about in the rain. He figured he ought to give them a ball, so they could have more fun. Slum Soccer started off as just that: distributing balls around to groups of kids in underprivileged communities.
Over time, the registered NGO and streetfootballworld member progressed to weekend kickabouts and has grown into an organization that brings structured sports and sporting equipment to thousands of underprivileged children in locations across India. Apart from football, both Dr. Barses have also organized events like the Mini Olympics — which included track and field events, handball and basketball — for the slum communities and a few bicycle rallies to promote peace, environmental awareness and the like.
Dr. Abhijeet Barse actually has a postdoctoral degree in Aquatic Toxicology. He was in the U.S. doing his research when he chanced upon an article about his father in an American newspaper. At the time, he had no clue what his father was doing with Slum Soccer or what he hoped to achieve. The article was a turning point Dr. Abhijeet Barse’s life, and long story short, he returned to India to join his father to help progress the mission of Slum Soccer.
Upon his return to India, in order to financially survive and maintain his own family, he maintained a full-time teaching position at Hislop College in Nagpur while running the day-to-day operations of Slum Soccer. For many years, Dr. Abhijeet Barse was a professor at the Hislop College, the institution where his father had taught physical education. Now, he has found a full-time home with Slum Soccer.
Giving Chevrolet One World Futbols to Slum Soccer
Several days before the tournaments in Nagpur, I flew down with Brian Suskiewicz, Chief Executive Strategist at Coaches Across Continents. The next two days were focused on donating and distributing Chevrolet One World Futbols to youth players in the Slum Soccer Homeless World Cup and those from surrounding communities across India.
The three-day tournament and two One World Futbol Project donation ceremonies were a huge success. Twelve teams from all corners of India competed in the tournament. Of course, it always comes down to two teams, and only one can be the victor. In this case, it ended in a shootout between Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — with West Bengal coming out victorious. A very exciting final!
The One World Futbol Project donation ceremonies happened on consecutive nights between tournament matches and were well-attended by local and state governments, ball recipients, participants, Slum Soccer board members and fans of football. Slum Soccer and One World Futbol Project managed to distribute over 2,400 balls in the two-day period, primarily to underprivileged educational and NGO organizations from all over India. These organizations promised to use the Chevrolet One World Futbols in their programs to help youth around India to play anywhere.
After awarding the championship team from West Bengal (pictured above), Dr. Vijay Barse concluded the donation ceremony saying, “Through the One World Futbol Project donation, we are able to reach more youth living on the edges of society and bring hope and play to the slums of India. This project is huge for Slum Soccer and wonderful for the youth of India.”