Potatoes are Brilliant
November 17, 2013. …you can’t have too many bananas and never ask Nick Gates to share his Kit-Kat. These are the only things I, Sarah Brown (pictured right), learnt in my first week in India! Actually nothing could be further from the truth. I had the enormous privilege of spending my first on-field experience working with CAC and Slum Soccer in Nagpur and it was a steep learning curve. Having previously been involved in the business side of CAC it was really important for me to see first hand how much communities can be positively impacted. I couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction. I had the honor of learning the ropes from Nick, Sophie and Nora.
Slum Soccer is an amazing organization that creates young leaders through football. They also run an annual nationwide tournament and coordinate the Homeless World Cup squad that represents India each year. This is the third year that CAC have worked with Slum Soccer and those that had seen where they started were continuously praising them for their achievements. There were 53 participants in the program, incorporating second and first year coaches as well as young leaders from other organizations such as Naz Goal and Maher. I was extremely impressed by the commitment, passion and maturity displayed by all who attended and particularly struck by the confidence, tenacity and ability of the girls. Truly inspirational in a country which is not exactly renowned for its gender equality or child rights. I slowly got to grips with the games although I’m still rather perplexed by the social impact message in 3 bums. I’m sure Sophie can explain with time though.
We also got to coach kids from outside Slum Soccer in the evenings. It was very moving for me to see how much joy they got out of one hour of our time. One evening we worked with the kids of the Sunshine Foundation who rehabilitate children of sex workers to try to prevent second generation trafficking. Hopefully this will inspire them to join Slum Soccer and become the young leaders of the future.
Our accommodation was in a great house situated right next to the football pitch where we worked everyday and also an apartment in central Nagpur owned by the Sunshine Foundation when our numbers increased with the arrival of Graham Bradford. One of the highlights of the week for Nick must surely have been when he arranged for all the young coaches to burst out laughing when Graham announced what team he supports. All sympathy may evaporate though when you hear that he is a Sunderland fan! The other, and perhaps most crucial, member of the team was director/producer/photographer/film-maker Kevin. He worked tirelessly for the whole week creating what will be the 2013 CAC documentary. We found him an utter joy to have around. Unfortunately, we discovered that the feelings weren’t mutual when he took the desperate measure of trying to board his plane 24 hours early.
I learnt so much in one week: About CAC and how it genuinely impacts communities in a sustainable way; about Slum Soccer and the amazing kids and young adults that are showing us how self-directed learning can and should work; and about the incredible passion and commitment of the staff of both organizations. Thank you to those who have made this such a memorable week for me. And a special thank you to Abhijeet and his family for being so welcoming and supportive. Keep up the amazing work.