01 August, 2021

It's A Free Kick For All

Bend the ball over social barriers—it's a new, egalitarian approach to football

Jitender Gupta
It's A Free Kick For All
They say football, unlike some class-inflected games, is a great leveller. Walk in to Delhi’s Thyagaraj Stadium on a Sunday morning and you’ll find proof in the shape of hundreds of children—all in the age group of 11-18—and their enthusiastic parents. The kids don smart football uniforms, down to their shoes, and take the field with the zest of a David Beckham, the energy of a Ronaldinho, the guile of a Thierry Henry and the dynamism of a Frank Lampard. Some distance away at the National Stadium near India Gate, kids between the ages of seven and ten get busy, showcasing their hunger for football.

A large number of parents settle down in the shade, waiting for their kids to finish their engagements while some others happily cheer them on from the sidelines. It is, to say the least, a soul-lifting sight, watching children learn to work together and compete against their peers.

There’s another small bunch of kids whose parents are not around to egg them on or wait to drive them home. These are orphans from Paharganj’s Salaam Balak Trust which works with street...

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