Football team members with coaches and project coordinator Girijan Gopi | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Kalpetta: Surging past the opponent, dribbling the ball, Manu called out, “Appu take…”. The pass was not just on the field but in life. The football was played by a group of youngsters who had to drop out of the studies and those who lost jobs amid Covid pandemic.
15 youngsters of the Kokkuzhi paniya colony are bouncing back to life through the football training organized under the ‘Every Children is a hero’ project of the MS Swaminathan Foundation.
The coordinator of the project that helps with online learning of students, realized the interests of these boys and aided for football training.
“Through proper training, they have been put back to health and many have started attending online classes actively. Others are preparing for equivalency exams. We are in the process of arranging vocational training,” senior development coordinator of the project Girijan Gopi said.
Football is life
Everyone has the jersey of Neymar. All of them are his fans.
“We learnt more about football from here,” said Santhosh, the eldest among them. He had the habit of chewing betel leaves. Now he has stopped as instructed by the coach.
Shibu, Santhosh and Sankaran are studying for the equivalency exam. “Coach said that if we study and practice football, we could join the police force,” said Shibu.
The youngest among the lot is Babiq, a Plus One student. “Coach said that if not attended online classes I won’t be allowed to play. SoI am attending the classes,” he said.
“Everyone is so dedicated. They walk for 2 km to reach the practice ground at Karinkutti school. However cold it may be, they come on time and practice for over 3 hours,” said their coach Joseph Perera, who is the former coach of Kerala Blasters.
Sports Council coach Rajesh Kumar also trains the group.