I am looking to raise funds to support the NGO ‘Just For Kicks’ program of imparting life skills through football, for 100 girls in the Dharwad district of Karnataka. ‘Just For Kicks’ in partnership with Enabling Leadership Foundation(ELF) is already running a pilot across 8 villages in Dharwad and witnessing phenomenal results with the girls becoming increasingly self-aware and confident through a game that’s been tainted as being a boy’s sport. With the football at their feet, these girls are now starting to dream big and question the status quo. Inspired by this progress, I am now looking to spearhead the expansion of ‘ Just For Kicks’ programming in rural Karnataka with the vision of reaching 100 more girls by next year.
Program cost for one child over one year: 6500 Rs / 100$. This cost includes: 48 training sessions, Training Gear For Each Child – Studs, Shinguards, Jerseys, Orientation Sessions For School and Parents, Participation in ‘Just For Kicks’ League games, Access to scouting opportunities and scholarships, Individual child and team assessment reports.
My piece in the puzzle:
Long before I fell in love with the cause of Just For Kicks, I fell in love with the beautiful game of football.
What I learned from football – Grit, Respect, Empathy, Courage, Teamwork, Leadership and most importantly Love. It is safe to say that Football has sculpted my personality in multiple ways. Growing up as a footballer and representing the Indian U-17 squad, I found myself feeling constantly underwhelmed by our facilities, resources and lack of support structures. Injuries bogged me down and I increasingly found myself fighting an uphill battle not just against the structures in place but also the culture around the sport. To that end, I fell prey to our failing sports/talent management system.
Having finished my engineering and working a run of the mill consulting gig for a year – I decided to fight back. I pursued the Teach for India fellowship and then completed my Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University with the hope of coming back to India to ensure that each child has the opportunity to play the beautiful sport and has the opportunity to take up the sport if he/she is passionate about it. As I look to champion the cause that ‘Just For Kicks’ has valiantly taken up, I realise that I need all the support I can get to fulfill the vision of reaching 1 million children by the year 2025 and making sure that no child falls through the cracks of our nation’s faltering sporting system.
Just For Kicks is a school intervention program working towards teaching children through a life skills-based football curriculum invaluable lessons of commitment, confidence, self-awareness, and grit. We work in the 5 Indian cities namely Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai, and the rural district of Dharwad in Karnataka in schools catering to students from the bottom of the economic pyramid. We believe in #EveryonePlays and begin working with children, both boys and girls, as young as 7 years old and continue training with them till the age of 16, through an ongoing collaboration with their schools.
Enabling Leadership is a Netherlands-based non-profit organisation that uses innovative mediums of music and sports to foster valuable life skills of leadership, creativity, confidence and global citizenship among marginalised children who have limited or no access to high quality education systems.
Why Focus on Girls: Football acts as an equalizer where in once you step onto the pitch – gender, socioeconomic background, social class don’t matter. This pitch then becomes symbolic of a free society where in all are equals, thus affording a girl child to express herself, uninhibited by constraints of our society. This expression then translates into various values such as grit and confidence being built up in the girl child that nudge the society to view them as equals and subsequently create a cycle of systemic change led by a mentality shift.
Donate and be a part of the football revolution where girls will play alongside boys, and all students will receive equal opportunity irrespective of their gender and socioeconomic status.