• Chennai learns about Gazza

    May 26th 2015. After two exciting weeks in Kolkata, I headed to Chennai to continue strengthening our partnership with Slum Soccer and Chevrolet FC and train another group of future coaches and youth leaders. The Slum Soccer Chennai team had selected a few coaches from their various centers in Tamil Nadu who will be responsible for implementing the CAC curriculum every week in their respective communities. The training effectively served as the transition between the first and second instalments of the Gamesa league. Building off of the excitement from the final tournament, just a week before, we worked to set the foundation for a strong second year of football for social impact throughout the region. Protection of the environment, gender equality and alcohol abuse were the chosen social issues for the week.

    The five Gazza games we played on Wednesday had tremendous success. Gazza is the player for our alcohol abuse module. All five games were chosen on Friday by participants to coach back to their peers. This demonstrates both how much the issue hit home but also their commitment to football for social impact. Although this was their first time to coach, they made a conscious effort to deliver the social messages associated with each game. What was remarkable was that each group described Gazza’s story in their own way and identified different lessons that could be learned. Some coaches also had fun inventing another  version of Gazza Dizzy tag. Gazza Dizzy tag is a game where the taggers have to turn around themselves while running, making it very difficult to catch players as they loose their balance, very much like the effects alcohol can have on one’s body. Instead of a tag game, players had to spin ten times around themselves and then try to score a goal, if they even managed to get to the ball before falling down.

    The training took place on a football field right in the middle the Mylapore community. This type of setting makes it easy to generate community support for a program. Slum Soccer has recently started working with Mylapore residents who are somewhat of an anomaly in cricket-crazy Chennai. We took advantage of the interest created by the training and the productive discussion after Marta for Gender Equity about why girls should play sport and why they don’t to invite girls from Mylapore for a fun session on Thursday afternoon. The three sole female participants led the games. More girls have been joining teams as a result of last year’s training and many of the participants have discussed the idea of opening girl centers when they return to their own communities.

    It has been exciting to witness Slum Soccer’s growth throughout India and there is no doubt that this new set of youth leaders will continue to expand the partnership’s impact to their different communities.

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