The UEFA European Championship is something we are all familiar with. It comes as a pleasant reminder that the World Cup is only 2 years away, and gives us a small dose of what we can expect in the coming couple of years. This year’s Euro Cup is sure to be a good one. Defending champions Spain and World Cup winners Germany will both be after their 4th Euro title. Apart from the epic battle for the title, this year’s Euro Cup has something else worth watching. They have their own official event, the Street Football Festival that will be held from 28th June 2016 to 7th July 2016 in Lyon, France. The unique event aims to uplift underprivileged children by using football as a tool of change.
The festival will bring together 80 youth teams from disadvantaged communities all over the world, and give them an opportunity to take part in a one-of-a-kind multicultural experience. It will serve as a platform for youth to share their knowledge, expertise and experience with one another while also developing new opportunities and partnerships between network members. The Dream a Dream trust is one of the network members of the festival, and they have chosen 4 youth from Bangalore to represent India during the football festival in France in June and July 2016.
In a country like ours, where cricket is more a religion than a sport, it’s truly heart-warming to learn about people like Navnitha, Manoj, Harshitha and Arbaz Pasha. With an undying love for football, these 9th and 10th standard children do not come from affluent backgrounds, but they’ve managed to make their circumstances work for them. Hard working youth, all 4 are thrilled to be going to France to be able to learn more and gain some new skills.
Despite being in a small school that did not have place for sports, Navnitha decided to carry on playing football with the Dream a Dream after-school programme. She worked hard, and it was her diligence that allowed her to master the game. The Ronaldinho fan is excited about her first trip abroad, and can’t wait to be a part of the festival where she hopes to learn a thing or two about French culture.
Manoj, a class 10 boy, didn’t always love the sport. At first, an inability to control the ball left him upset. However, he decided he wasn’t a quitter, and trained harder until he had mastered the sport. His power to concentrate on football has also helped him concentrate in his studies, and he’s become much better in reading – something he was a bit weak in. When he heard about the street football festival, he trained hard and took running, ball control, and tackling tests to qualify to go to France. After hearing he passed the tests, he was absolutely ecstatic, and is now thrilled to be representing his country.
Another part of the delegation, Harshitha wishes to be an inspiration to girls in the country. A lot of girls in India are not involved in sport, and many are not allowed to go out and play either. Hoping to change this, Harshitha is thankful to her mother who continues to support all her decisions. A die-hard Ronaldo fan, she wants to show girls in India that women can get ahead in life – not just in studies, but also in sports!
The son of a rickshaw driver, 15-year old Arbaz Pasha is the fourth player representing India in France. Football hasn’t just taught this youngster discipline, it has also taught him to be positive in life, no matter what.
The four industrious youth will be headed to France with their delegation leader Pavithra Kadanoor Lakshminarazana, and their young leader Prasanna Hanumanthappa, a product of Dream a Dream himself. The team is training hard thrice a week, and the trust is raising money through donations to pay for the trip.
A fabulous platform to teach fans across the world about how football can help youth, the festival is sure to be a success. We’re glad that a few talented boys and girls from India have the opportunity to witness everything first-hand and we hope they share their experiences with us once they are back in July. Here’s what young leader Prasanna Hanumanthappa had to say about the upcoming trip to Lyon:
“I am happy today that football has given me an opportunity to accompany these talented children to France. It is also my first international trip and I look forward to meeting new people. Most importantly, I want to see how they make an impact for social change and I want to come back and impact lives of children in India. I will ensure that these children who are going to France will in turn come back and teach children in their communities, so that others get an opportunity too.”
If you’d like to help Dream a Dream in their journey to France, click here to make a donation.