The Optimist Citizen

See how Soccer is changing the lives of thousands from the marginalized communities


Football has always been the most favorite sport on the planet where billions of people around the globe follow it as a religion and acts as an emotional epicenter for many nationalities. A group of 22 people chasing a ball around and aiming for a single goal showcasing their skills, hard work, teamwork and determination is witnessed. But have you ever thought about football changing the lives of the marginalized and rural communities of India?  Wherein it contributes to the physical, social and psychological development of children from slums. You might not have. But all this and much more is indeed being carried out at the ground level by an unusual yet exceptional organization Slum Soccer.

Officially registered in 2001, Slum soccer was started by Mr. Abhijeet Barse with a conviction to change the lives of youth belonging to the marginalized and poor sections of our society using the dynamic sport of FOOTBALL as a medium. While completing his post doctoral studies in The United States Abhijeet went through a phase of inner clashes to bring clarity in his thoughts and thus decided to continue the legacy of his father and use football to change lives. After this there was no looking back.

Abhijeet’s father used to provide incentives to the youth of tribal societies to play football so that they can secure a job through a sports quota. Banking on the penetrative impacts of the sport Abhijeet took tha baton forward and started training the financially and socially incapable and helped them excel in football. He used it to teach the importance of self realization, hard work, teamwork and determination because he felt that good friendship, trust and a change is born on the field. With this philosophy in mind Slum Soccer has worked tirelessly and has grown exponentially. Over the years they have developed from a sport training organization to a more diverse state where they have now created a curriculum to spread awareness about numerous social issues like saving, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS, hygiene and child rights. They also try to impart skills of social development, awareness and education through their programs lie Edukick.

But above all the most important attribute that the organization imparts is happiness and fun into the lives of these usually dejected youth of our society by making them responsible citizens of a better future. Slum Soccer conducts a wondrous and diverse set of programs like Young leaders program, Coaches training program, livelihood training and Project Young stars. These ingenious programs train the youth in a holistic manner and prepares them ready for different roles right from a player to a coach. The organization has also performed on many Local, national and international forefronts like the Homeless World Cup that is held annually and the 2015 edition was held at Amsterdam. The players from Slum Soccer represented India and the Women’s Team came in at the 6th position. Until now the organization has had an impact on more than 70,000 men, women and children. But Abhijeet says that they still have a long way to go where they want to impact millions more and change the lives of the dejected, backward and marginalized sections of our society through Football. They have 3 national hubs and sports centre at Nagpur, Chennai and Kolkata and want to expand many more cities and villages and want to work at the grassroots level.

It is amazing to witness how just a ball of rubber can become therapeutic and change the lives of thousands. How a field of mud can give the strongest foundation to the lives of the dejected youth who deserve equal opportunities like all. It is this simplicity of idea of Slum Soccer that creates the most profound impact and bring out the never before seen in these individuals. So why stop here ! Gear up, set the field, blow the whistle and lets run towards the goal because this game might help someone achieve their goals in lives and become independent and change makers for a better tomorrow.

Story by : Tuhin Sen   |   Compiled by : Nikhil Sharma

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