Football tool to spread awareness against social evils

Koraput: In a bid to raise awareness among people about social evils like alcoholism and child marriage, a novel programme called "Football for Social Change" (FSC) was launched by a UK-based organisation in Koraput district.

Around 32 youths, including four girls, belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes and in the age group of 15 to 20 years, have been selected for the programme.

"As football is popular among rural youths, the programme aims at educating and empowering youngsters through the game. It focuses on creating awareness against the social evils", said Sanjit Pattnaik of SOVA, a local voluntary organisation that has tied up with the UK-based Skill-share Internationals for implementing the project.

The coaching programme will relate laws of football to social issues in a unique way, so that the participants enjoy the sessions. "Football teaches team work, time management and handling pressure which will be used while spreading awareness against social evils. The youths will be taught to handle pressure on field, which will reflect in their daily life, too", said Ashok Rathod, a Mumbai-based football coach who will be coaching the youths at the camp.

"In football, if a player does not pass the ball in time, rival team snatches it. The same rule can be applied to one`s life. One must do the right thing at the right time in life. For example, at the time of attending schools, one should not do other things and become a dropout," he said.

The participants are also confident that the training will boost their confidence and self-esteem and will be helpful in building valuable life skills. "It`s a new experience for us. Getting knowledge about social ills while playing football sounds unique. We are hopeful that after being aware of various social evils at the camp, we will be able to inform other youths in remote areas and can bring about a social change," said Sahadev Bodonaik of Lankaput village.

During the training programme, the youths will be provided free food, travelling allowances and necessary sports gear. After completion of the training programme, these youths will form football clubs comprising 15 people each in their respective villages.

In the next one year, these clubs will organise at least 16 workshops in their respective villages to spread awareness against social evils. Once these youths form football clubs to their villages, skill-share International will continue to support them.