Most initiatives for underprivileged children of India have focussed on education. However, there are only a few that look at nurturing the sporting talent of these children. And DSC Soccer Baalak Ki Khoj is one such initiative.
Initiated by the Consortium for Street Children (CSC), an organisation dedicated to advocating, promoting and campaigning for the rights of street children globally, the initiative will hunt for a talented football player, who will then be sponsored for education and training, and will also gain exposure to professional football.
Surina Narula, president, Consortium for Street Children, UK, says, "It is an initiative that identifies talent amongst street children at the grassroots level. Apart from providing a fillip to a sport that is otherwise overlooked in India, it is an initiative to encourage, nurture and provide opportunities for those budding talents that have the drive towards the sport, but due to lack of guidance and infrastructure, are unable to develop it further."
The initiative has the support of Vikash Dhorasoo, an Indian origin French football player and also an Ambassador for the CSC. The initiative was started with an exhibition match at the St Columba's School in New Delhi, where two teams of street children - one led by Dhorasoo and the other by Indian player, Renedy Singh - played against each other. Dhorasoo is also the only player of Indian origin to have played in a FIFA World Cup. He has also been voted twice as the Best Player in the French Championship, in 1998 and 2004.
CSC will work together with various NGOs that work towards street children welfare. CSC will also be looking at these NGOs to bring in a larger pool of talent for the initiative. Some of the organisations that have come forward to support the initiative are Salaam Baalak Trust, Butterfly, Don Bosco, Kutumb, Khushi and Udayan.
Along with providing a platform to develop football skills, the initiative also ensures quality education for the selected children. The organisation will hold various matches amongst all the children selected, through which the most talented child will be picked up for further training. The players would also be made to go through a rigorous screening process, so as to choose the player who deserves the scholarship programme.
Narula lists the parameters on which the winner will be selected. "There are various criteria, important amongst them being intrinsic talent, enthusiasm and drive for the sport, together with performance, which will be showcased throughout the series of matches."
As for identifying and developing football talent in India, Dhorasoo says, "This is only been my first visit to India, and I am extremely encouraged by the response here. I do plan on returning here again soon, to see how I can help carry forward this and other initiatives to promote football in India. I wish to have a partnership going on with India. I am open to any kind of help I can offer to Indian football."
DSC Ltd., an infrastructure development company, is the main sponsor for the event, while Salaam Baalak Trust is responsible for putting the event together on-ground.