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Social development breeding football champions in Delhi slums

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Early morning hours, around 3:30 AM, Khushi rubs her eyes to wake up for the new day. Her love for football makes the 13-year-old jump off the bed instantly every morning. She trains with a group of kids in MY ANGELS ACADEMY(Social Development NGO) till 6:30 AM and then goes to school.  After school, she helps her widowed mother with the work and take care of her younger siblings (2 sisters, 1 brother). Later in the evening, she helps in administrative work of My Angels Academy.

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The story of Khushi and her triumphs started in 2015. She, along with the My Angels Academy girls team, visited Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to participate in the Delhi Youth League for playing a tournament match. Little did she know about who she would be facing that day. It was a college girls team in front of her. Though the organizers were reluctant to let Khushi play in the team due to her age, they finally allowed her. They assumed that the result would be obvious, the college girls team’s win. But what happened after that was pure magic. At one moment in the game, Khushi turned 360 degrees to face the goal, pulled back the ball from her left foot insole towards her strong right leg and kicked the ball into the top corner of the goal – THE MARSEILLE TURN and GOAL. Nobody expected this little girl to trounce with the opportunity to score the winning goal for My Angels Academy but she did.

Since then, Khushi has played in U-9, U-11, U-13 and with the girls senior team in the Delhi youth league. She has got the most number of best player trophies in the league last year. Because of this, she played at the Dr. Ambedkar national games 2015-16 and won the tournament with My Angels academy.

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The Dark days and Hope after all

Khushi was born in 2003, in Purnia district of Bihar. She migrated with her family to Delhi when she was just a year old baby. Their shop in Bihar was robbed, rendering them penniless. In Delhi, with the aid of a friend, her family was able to rent a small room in the slum of Vikaspuri where they are currently residing. Unable to understand or discuss the personal issues at her house compounded by the abuses of her father, Khushi slowly got dragged towards the darker side of the slum environment.

Meanwhile a few yards outside the slum, a guy named Sylvester Peter was engaging the kids of his apartment in football every evening. Some kids from the same Vikaspuri slum wandering around used to curiously watch Sylvester and the football. Eventually, they joined as well and in a couple of years, Sylvester Peter, fulfilling his childhood dream, officially started My Angels Academy for complete development of slum kids with a special focus on football.

When Sylvester met Khushi

Sylvester got introduced to Khushi in 2009. Her first visit, as Sylvester recalls, reminds him of an angry, dusty girl unafraid of countering anybody, either physically or verbally. Today, a smiling face and a humble voice are what Khushi greets everyone with. Has she lost all her aggressiveness? It is probably this aggressiveness which Sylvester has channelised into her dominance on football pitch.

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Khushi dreams of playing in the Indian national team one day. She is confident about overcoming all the challenges except the ones outside the field. The slum she lived in was demolished the the Government authorities. On top of that lack of better opportunities to play more tournaments, unavailability of new equipment and no funds to support her passion are just few of the odds stacked against Khushi’s dream. We got to know about ‘Khushi’ and ‘My Angels Academy’ from our NGO friend “Bridges of Sports”. We are working them to uplift the grassroots sports of this nation by providing sports training to schools and bridging the social divide of sports talent in this nation.

My Angels & their Social Development

Social development producing football champions in Delhi slums - by Kreedon

My Angels Academy is the Lifeline & Backbone for over 140 Slum Children in Vikaspuri area of New Delhi City. From past two decades, it’s been running on personal Income, small personal donations, contributions from the Academy’s alumni and few close friends & well-wishers who support the idea of nurturing underprivileged children using the tool of football training and bring out next generation of sports persons in India. The mission of My Angels Academy is to provide holistic development for street kids. My Angels Academy uses Meditation, Academics and Athletics (MAA) as the three major tools to impart skills inside street kids. This makes them independent and socially responsible. Sylvester, who started the academy has done this for over 15 years, mostly with his own finances. But now, My Angels Academy is in dire need of more support from individuals, public and private enterprises. This support could finally enable Khushi’s dream to be accomplished along with the dreams of other 140 kids. As Luis Suarez wrote in his autobiography, “It’s not that I want to win, it’s that I need to win.”

What we can learn?

For Khushi and My Angels Academy, there are no other alternatives other than social developments through football. We, on the other hand, do have alternatives. Should we choose to act now or should we wait until another TV debate on how a girl with no financial support triumphed against all odds to represent India? The choice is ours. THERE IS NO HARM IN ENACTING A REAL SANTA ONCE IN A WHILE

Case by : Bridges of Sports, My Angels Academy

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We are a team of sports writers who research about sports in India day in day out. Please reach out to us in case of any specific requirement of digital services on [email protected] .


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