CAC staff member Turner Humphries writes about a day in the life of Pankaj Mahajan, a Community Impact Coach from our long term partner Slum Soccer in Nagpur, India.
November 20th 2015. Pankaj ascends from bed at 6:00 am, he washes his face, brushes his teeth and takes a small cup of tea before heading out the door. He borrows any moto available to get him to Nagpur’s city center for a practice session with fourteen year old boys and girls. He then departs for the Slum Soccer center in Bokhara – arriving around 7:45 am. He brings out all the football equipment that I will need for the on-field training and takes another cup of tea. As the clock closes in on 8:00 I reach the field. Having spotted me walking up the road, Pankaj has already retreated to the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea for me. As the program begins Pankaj is right by my side as he beckons the Hindi translation of the instructions I have given for the upcoming game. He then scurries to join his team to play; hounding attacking players with his insatiable appetite for a 50-50 challenge. After assisting me with my coaching session Pankaj sits down with the CEO of Slum Soccer to discuss an upcoming fair play tournament that he is in charge of organizing. Pankaj is hoping this tournament will give him the experience necessary to be a Young Leaders Coordinator for a Street Football World festival in France. Following his meeting with the top brass of Slum Soccer, Pankaj sets about fulfilling his many Off-Field responsibilities. Emails must be sent, practices must be planned and reports must be written. Closing his laptop Pankaj heads back on the field, this time to observe and evaluate some of the Young Leaders of Slum Soccer as they try their hand at coaching games to local youth. Once the session is complete Pankaj makes his way back to the office to retrieve his trusted laptop. The lights of the office have been switched off, still he continues his work from home. Back at home another cup of tea is in order. With the last of his emails sent he begins refining his English skills with a booked entitled, Differences Between Mission and Vision. He shuttles back and forth between this book and the dictionary as he attempts to learn the words he does not understand. After dinner Pankaj mingles with friends and relative in his neighborhood. For an hour or so they listen to music and share tips on how to gain the interest of members of the opposite sex. The clock now reads 11:30 pm – it is time for Pankaj to go to bed. Before he switches off the lights he squeezes in five more pages of his book.
Pankaj Mahajan is twenty-one years old and has recently become a senior coach with Slum Soccer. Just one year ago Pankaj’s circumstances were very different. After a battle with alcohol addiction his father committed suicide. Pankaj left college so he could care for his family. He began work painting houses and running a provisional store, earning around 1,000 rupees per month. His entire wage was going back to help support his family. As Pankaj shares his story with me he is calm and measured. Instead of being sad about the past he wants me to know he is focused on his future – I have no doubts it will be bright one. Pankaj is a Community Impact Coach with Coaches Across Continents. His hard work and dedication have made him a joy to be around, his sense of humor and genuine personality have made him a great friend.