[Think Sport] Soccer: The great social leveler

By Think Change India|12th Jul 2010
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This post is written by Sujoy Dhar of Team Samhita.

Prasanna, now 19, works as a Sports Leader in Dream Football programme, an initiative run by Bangalore-based NGO Dream A Dream.

Prasanna joined the sports programme seven years ago. Coming from a violent, conflict-ridden background, the sports programme helped him channelize his violence positively into sport to become the team’s best player.

Today, he confidently takes on life’s challenges just the way he does on the sporting field.

“I love computers and books. I also want to study further,” says Prasanna.

Soccer, referred to as the beautiful game, is not just a game. It is one of the biggest social levellers- evident as much from the story of Prasanna as the hosting of the mega FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

Once referred to as the ‘Dark Continent’ of the world and the home of Apartheid, South Africa finally kept its tryst with the World Cup, which in itself is a palette of multiracial and multicultural sportspersons chasing the glory.

In the social development orb soccer is a powerful tool of change.

Take for example, streetfootballworld, a social profit organization that links relevant actors in the field of development through Football. Established in 2002, the Germany-based organization encourages global partnerships for positive social change.

The streetfootballworld network comprises more than 80 local initiatives worldwide. Streetfootballworld uses soccer as a tool for social change, by addressing issues such as children’s rights and education, social integration, environmental protection, health and peace-building through the sport.

A cornerstone of streetfootballworld’s work is the streetfootballworld Network, which was created to connect and strengthen football-based community initiatives from around the globe.

In partnership with locally active organizations from the streetfootballworld Network, it takes cue from successful experiences in the field of Development through Football.

The streetfootballworld Network continues to grow. Dream A Dream from India joins the streetfootballworld network as the 82nd member.

Dream A Dream was recommended for membership by streetfootballworld network member Magic Bus, another not-for-profit organisation in India, that works with marginalized children and uses sport and outdoors as a medium for their development.

With over ten years of experience working with disadvantaged children and young people and its Dream Football programme, Dream A Dream says it will strengthen the streetfootballworld network in Asia.

Having started with a dozen young dreamers, today over 2,200 children take part in activities delivered by an active and enthusiastic base of more than 1,200 volunteers at Dream A Dream.

The idea of using team sports like football is to create a fun filled learning environment for children and what they learn on field can be directly transferred to life off the pitch. For Dream A Dream, football is more than a game. It’s a medium to deliver life skills to children from vulnerable backgrounds.

“We have seen tremendous positive results. Children graduating from the programs are today perusing personal ambitions. They acknowledge that Dream Programs have given them wings to fly,” says Vishal Talreja, co-founder and director of Dream A Dream.

”Soccer will strengthen them to take on life’s challenges confidently and become positive, contributing members of this society,” he says.

According to Taleja, the idea of using team sports like football is to create a fun filled learning environment for children and what they learn on field can be directly transferred to life off the pitch.

“For Dream A Dream, football is more than a game. It’s a medium to deliver life skills to children from vulnerable backgrounds,” he says.

The beautiful game worldwide gifts a beautiful life to many an underprivileged.

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