Mahatma Gandhi developed interest for football while studying Law in England. His Interest grew to become a personal passion in South Africa. He believed this sport could benefit in community programs. Also, he believed that sports could be a means to spread solidarity and sportsman spirit. And, we all know how he promoted a healthy and wholesome lifestyle.
He helped form a Transvaal Indian Football Association which was the first football group not run by whites. Football had an immense appeal to less-privileged classes of South Africa. He believed that the game has potential to promote team work. It was an efficient tool to attract huge crowd for spreading non-violence and equality messages. Gandhi often distributed pamphlets for the same. He used the raised money from such events for community development. He used the funds collected to aid the family of people who were imprisoned for their nonviolent struggle against racist laws.
Rebecaa Naidoo, the great granddaughter of Gandhi once said “The most prominent football teams in South Africa would not have existed without efforts of Gandhi and colleagues.”
He helped establish three football clubs in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg, all named as Passive Resisters Soccer Club. Gandhi played a crucial role in shaping these clubs to their present state. He gave the non-whites a means to get involved in a structured sport. He also believed that sports can help build strong integrity and equality among communities.
One of his famous qoutes – “It is health that is real wealth, not pieces of gold and silver.”
Fun fact : There is a Brazilian midfielder whose name is also “Mahatama Gandhi”.