Slum Soccer exists to foster sustainable development within otherwise marginalised populations of India. We aim to provide long term solutions to combat rife homelessness and improve living standards within underprivileged areas. Our approaches are centred on building self-sufficient communities. The game of Football is our means to that end- connecting individuals, teaching life skills and working towards improving overall quality of life.
Homeless and slum communities host a variety of complex issues on a daily basis. Prominence of sexual and domestic abuse, unemployment, alcoholism, drug usage, malnutrition and mental health issues and a cycle of disengagement from the education sector almost condemn these communities to a continuing struggle- preventing them from being successfully involved in an already disparate society.
All we ask them to do is kick a ball. That simple act is therapeutic in itself. As a first step, we attempt to give our participating players hope and purpose. Our centres act as safe places free of discrimination; providing positive role models and a place to develop and enjoy one self.
We believe that sport and football inherently offer a transferrable set of skills for social development; through team building, acceptance and discipline. We at Slum Soccer choose specific issues that the Indian slums face and shape our sessions around building some specific and necessary life skills. Football acts as the messenger. Specific game topics include, but are not limited to; saving, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, hygiene and child rights.
All said and done, the biggest factor that enables us to use football as a tool to connect and bring about social development is quite stunningly simple. Football is fun! We believe we are able to bring about increased learning and engagement through utilising this.
We have always worked with the aim of reaching out to the Indian homeless using football as a tool for social improvement and empowerment. Slum Soccer began based on the simple philosophy ‘Football for All’. Most organizations working with the sport as a change agent emphasise on development through sport as their focus. Slum Soccer has always aimed to find middle ground by ensuring that while seeking the benefits that sport offers to community development, development of the sport itself is not neglected.
Over the past ten years, we have functioned true to our original objective of reaching out to and developing football in the grassroots. What started as simple weekend sessions has bloomed into full fledged football coaching camps, educational and healthcare workshops and societal development programs bringing a positive influence to the lives of nearly 70,000 men, women and children in over 63 districts all around the country.
While there is a sense of satisfaction at what we have achieved thus far, the overriding feeling is that our work has just begun and we have a long, long way to go. It is now time that we at Slum Soccer reevaluate our aspirations, restructure our goals and review our methodology. Over the past decade, no stone was left unturned in seeking out newer avenues where we could have conceivably made a difference. We have to be more prudent now and ensure that we fully reap the benefits of our past efforts by adopting the mantra of consolidation. This is not to say that expansion as a theory needs to be sidelined; rather we have to make certain that any expansion plans complement our plan for standardization.
Our typical participant demographic includes the homeless, recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, children of commercial sex workers, slum dwelling kids and youth, street paper vendors and the like. Often these sections are so far removed from mainstream society that it becomes imperative that as a first step we have to attempt to reintegrate them and that has been our primary objective thus far.
In view of our evolving philosophy, we now aim to make these participants employable. In addition to enabling them to function in a conventional society, we also hope to impart certain life skills using different media like the art, drama and music. The organisation is also in possession of computers which will greatly aid the process of ensuring all round development. Curricula for all the above mentioned media is being developed with the aid of experts and other partner organizations which have great experience in this field.
We believe the time is also right for the ‘Corporatization’ of Slum Soccer. The aforementioned term is not normally used with reference to Non Governmental Charitable Organizations. It does evoke mental imagery of profit mongering. However, the intention here is to bring order into our rapidly growing setup by getting youngsters and professionals involved in Social Responsibility. Our vision is to develop a structure conventionally seen in corporations and empowering interested volunteers by placing them in departments where they feel they could best contribute.