Needy kids get wings, lay eyes on making it big in football

Needy kids get wings, lay eyes on making it big in football

Children play football at a training centre in Barian Kalan village of Jalandhar. Tribune photo

Aakanksha N Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 20

After losing his father, Arjun discontinued his studies in Class V and joined his mother in playing ‘dhol’ at marriages to lend a helping hand to the family. Now 14, he is a promising football player.

Arjun, along with several other children who have suffered in their lives, have been brought together under one platform — Principal Harbhajan Singh Training Centre, Barian Kalan in Jalandhar. The training centre was started with one mission, to not let young children get indulged in drugs and instead, make them adopt sports and channelise their energy. One doesn’t expect these small kids, who hardly have televisions at their homes, to even know of any international players. They do not have enough money to afford a diet and football kit for them, but ask them who they adore in the game and they name their favourite players — Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Daughter of daily wagers, Sonia (10) is the only girl among 50 boys at the centre. She is a Class VI student. Ask her who her favorite player is and comes a prompt reply, “Ronaldo”. She is an ardent fan of the Portugese player and idolises him.

Karan is another player whose mother is the only breadwinner in the house. He aspires to become an Army officer, for which he has taken up the sport. His only pair of worn out shoes injured his foot recently, but he carried on with the practice without any break.

The talent of these young kids has been recognised by former BSF football coach Suraj Bhan Handa. It was his view to start the training centre. “These small kids have a lot of talent in them. I just didn’t want them to lose their way because of problems and absence of proper direction. We,” Handa said.

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