The children in our Balbhavan and Rehab Center have a new sporting passion. For the past year they have been spending every spare minute perfecting their ball skills and playing soccer and thanks to our supporters in Germany have been provided with the football kits, boots and balls that have helped them to develop into a very professional looking team.
It all paid off when Snehalaya's Balbhavan Ahmednagar District boys team was invited to take part in the 15th Nashikrao Tirpude Memorial Slum Soccer Men’s State Championship held at the Slum Soccer Academy, Bokhara, Nagpur on 13-14 October. Our relatively novice players, aged 16+, made a real impact in the seven-a-side tournament reaching the semi-finals only to lose out to Washim District. They didn’t leave empty-handed though, bringing home the Fair Play Award for being the most thoughtful and supportive team.
The state team selectors were also at the tournament searching for new talent and two of our team players, Manoj Ahire and Avinash Thokal, were invited to take part in the selection trails. We are so proud of team captain Avinash who stood out on the pitch and has been chosen to play for the Maharashtra state team in the national finals which will be held in Kolkatta in January.
The tournament which saw 140 participants from slums and underprivileged communities representing 14 districts compete is not just about providing an opportunity to play the beautiful game, it’s also about building responsibility, confidence and teamwork, skills intended to set them on the path to community leadership. The national team are invited to take part in the Homeless World Games which are in Glasgow this year, the next games will be in 2020 and we hope that one of our players will be there to represent Snehlaya and our nation.
We are now exploring a partnership with slum soccer and are pleased to report that our girls are also now taking an interest in the sport and we are sending our girls team to play in the state championships in December.
Our Balbhavan's run community centers in seven of Ahmednagar's slums engaging the youth in activities such as soccer as a means to instill a sense of self beleif and to prevent them falling into criminal activities.