From Indian slums to Berlin for football
As the women's football World Cup kicked off in Germany on Sunday, a group of Indian girls will take part in a parallel international tournament - Discover Football, a global initiative to help disadvantaged girls challenge societal norms and make a mark.
As the women's football World Cup kicked off in Germany Sunday, a group of Indian girls will take part in a parallel international tournament - Discover Football, a global initiative to help disadvantaged girls challenge societal norms and make a mark.
Being held on the sidelines of FIFA Women's World Cup, Discover Football is bringing together eight teams from across the world for an international women's football tournament in the centre of Berlin.
The tournament will be accompanied by a diverse cultural festival.
The June 27-July 3 tournament will see participation of women teams from India, Afghanistan, Israel, Rwanda, Togo, Cameroon and Brazil, as also Berlin. The teams have been selected by Streetfootballworld from a list of 38 applicants.
Streetfootball is a Berlin-based organisation that drives a network of local organisations that use football to provide opportunities to disadvantaged young people and builds a coalition of powerful partners to create social change.
Slum Soccer - the Indian team - is founded by a Nagpur-based NGO that trains underprivileged children and youth from across India in football.
"Football is a unique and yet a perfect vehicle that transcends race, religion, language and gender to bring about a change in the lives of street dwellers," Slum Soccer CEO Abhijeet Barse told IANS here.
Barse, who is accompanying team India, said development through sports has a track record of being successful across continents and from our own experience.
Team India landed in Berlin Saturday and will play its first match against team Berlin Monday at 8 p.m. local time.
The girls participating in the tournament are equally excited as for most of them it's the first time they are visiting a foreign land.
"Me and my mother were abandoned by my father after I was born as he did not want a girl child. My mother worked as a labourer in Orissa to bring me up," said 18-year-old Shehnaz Kureshi.
"When I was in Class 10 I got interested in football. My mother and society objected to it. But I continued and I am happy to be a part of this tournament," she added.
Kureshi's story is similar to stories of other members of the team who have all fought social and economic battles to participate in the event.
Slum Soccer was launched in 2001 with a vision to equip the underprivileged to deal with and emerge from the disadvantages riding on their homelessness using the medium of football.
"Our project was created through necessity. Its aim is to offer much-needed sporting opportunities and personal development programmes to disadvantaged young people across India," he said.
The event, which will be staged this year in the Willy Kressmann stadium and the Victoria Park in Kreuzberg, Berlin, is part of the official cultural programme of Discover Football in the Women's World Cup year.
Besides football, the participants will take part in a lot of cultural, sight-seeing and grooming workshops during the week-long stay. All the participants will attend live screening of Women World Cup matches in Berlin.