A football club trains indigent students for free, with the help of 15 committed veterans.

For over 30 children from Kallayi, football is life. The playground of Chalappuram Ganapath School wakes up to their backbreaking training sessions. Two trainers help these enthusiasts, mostly hailing from indigent families, dream big.

P. Shanawaz and Ummer Koya, veteran players of the Kallayi Soccer Academy, want to nurture and preserve the love for this global sport in villages. For this, they offer their decades’ long expertise free of cost to children.

For six years, the club has been moulding young players, giving their game a ‘professional’ touch. No sprint to success here, the duo believes that the climb to the top is painful, laborious.

“Our club has 15 veteran players who share their expertise and money for moulding young players. We have not approached any agencies for contributions so far,” says Mr. Shanawaz.

He adds that a hectic training session is on this summer vacation.

Though the fresh batch comprises only 30 kids below the age of 15, the club has altogether 100-odd young players, trained during various periods. Many of them now represent the club in tournaments organised by various soccer clubs.

“We offer a three-year training programme for all. Later they are absorbed to the club to participate in tournaments. So far, our children have taken part in over eight State-level tournaments and won several matches,” says Mr. Shanawaz, formerly a player with the Calicut University team.

The trainers admit that moulding young talents for the game is not easy since the wards show a tendency to defy prescribed modes of learning.

To meet the challenge, they have customised the training session to suit the temperament of students. “We try to engage them in all possible games on the playground so that they will automatically acquire the needed physical flexibility and get prepared to meet the requirements of the game,” says Mr. Shanawaz. Also we try to kindle their spirit by introducing crowd-pulling tricks and tactics of popular players, he says.

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