• Life Starts After Your Engineering Degree

    CAC SDL coach Turner Humphries talks about his 2nd week in Nagpur, India with Slum Soccer.

    December 10th 2015. Due to a cyclone developing in Chennai the decision was made to remain in Nagpur for a second week. A group of coaches from Chennai made the long train journey to Nagpur where their training would be held.

    After an hour and a half of hard work on the field we would all retreat to the small patch of shade outlined by benches with faded green, yellow and red paint. As the participants ate their breakfast of yellow rice and fruits, it offered me the opportunity to get to know them outside of being soccer coaches. For many of them their journey to becoming a coach was not so straightforward. The participants voiced their frustration with the pressure put on them by their parents. This pressure in some cases led them down a path that they had no interest in. It seemed like many of them shared similar stories, citing how their parents decided which school they would attend and which subjects they would study. Aaron, a participate from Chennai spoke to me about his time at university studying to earn a degree in engineering. ‘I had zero interest in engineering, but that didn’t matter,’ he proclaims, ‘in India every parent wants their child to be an engineer or a doctor. That decision was made for me basically as soon as I was born.’ While Aaron tells me his story his friends have been nodding their heads in agreement to every sentence. I go around to each of them and ask them what they studied, ‘civil engineering,’ ‘electrical engineering,’ ‘automotive engineering,’ ‘structural engineering.’ ‘I told you!’ Aaron shouts, ‘In India your life starts after your engineering degree.’ I have no doubt that their parents had only but the best intentions in mind. They most likely look at the world and see an incredibly competitive global workplace. Hoping to give their child the best chance to succeed they handpick a course of study they think will bring security. But what about the days of ‘you can be anything you want to be’? Is that just a nice phrase we tell children until they get older? Should it really be you can be anything you want to be, as long as it comes with a six figure salary, a company car and approving sentiments from the neighbors? We tell children to dream big, but if those dreams do not fall in line with what is socially acceptable or is not the ‘right’ choice, we tell them to dream again. Prithvi, another participant from Chennai was talking to me about his favorite soccer coaches, listing the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Prithvi then asked me, ‘Do you think an Indian will ever coach in the Premier League in England?’ ‘Why not?’ I responded, ‘why not you?’

    Slum Soccer, Nagpur, India