Field Of Dreams
CAC SDL coach Turner Humphries writes about a great week in Kolkata, India with Slum Soccer.
December 18th 2015. In Kolkata we were playing on a recently built artificial turf field behind one of the local schools. Before the field was built (by our partners Chevrolet FC in May!) this area was steered clear of by most of the community, as it became a haven for drug and alcohol use and other antisocial behavior. The addition of this new field has seen a transformation in the community, and a once crime ridden area has become the focal point of positive activity.
Shabaz, a participant from Kolkata, describes what this field has meant to him. “Most of the members of this community enjoy football. Before there was this facility people were practicing in the streets at night, but the police would chase everyone away. That’s how we worked on our fitness – running from the police! Before this field was here this area had lots of problems with drugs, alcohol and other bad things. The people in the community did not feel safe. In a way this field has stabilized the community, you will not see anyone doing bad things around here anymore. Parents now feel comfortable sending their children here at night. Girls have been invited to play too. Everyone should feel safe here; it’s football, not bad-ball. Because of this field I have been able to start my coaching career. Without it I would have nothing.”
During our training the field would be surrounded by community members coming to hangout, chat with friends and to check out the coaches yelling ‘Boomshakalaka’ and dancing around singing ‘Mingle Mingle!’ The field is equipped with lights so the field is almost in constant use. The participants all took pride in the new facility, cleaning up every piece of trash before leaving. It was the ideal setting to go deeper into some of the issues troubling the community and work together to come up with solutions.