Twelve children from Ahmedabad. Gujarat will be participating in the Gothia Cup, the world’s largest youth football cup, to be held in Sweden later this week. The two boys and 10 girls have been receiving football training sponsored by Swedish technology company SKF Ltd. since 2015, and were students of government schools until recently.
Kahaani Sports Academy, the training facility involved in training these children, runs a program in collaboration with SKF India Ltd. to train children from underprivileged backgrounds in football. In addition to providing the children with free coaching, the program also takes care of their health and diet needs.
Belonging to a batch of 30 students who were selected from two schools in 2015, these children have faced several hardships in the run-up to the largest youth football cup in the world.
DNA India quoted Mahesh Thakkar, the students’ coach, as saying, “The children are from poor backgrounds. Some of them did not have the necessary documents, while some had incomplete documents. But we could arrange the papers with help from senior government officials.”
He went on to describe the kids’ journey after passing Class 8 recently.
“After these children passed Class 8 exams, a number of private schools were keen to admit them due to their sports background, but I wanted that all of them to study in the same school so that they could continue playing together. We had to work hard, but we managed to secure admission for all of them in the same school.”
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani took to Twitter to congratulate the children.
Nobody would have ever imagined that 12 underprivileged children from Govt School of Ahmedabad, who have never even travelled in a luxury bus, will fly to Sweden to participate in the world’s largest youth football tournament. Kudos to the Govt School Authorities & the Super Kids pic.twitter.com/2su1pvWMzl
— CMO Gujarat (@CMOGuj) July 9, 2018
This is the third time this team will be participating in the Gothia Cup, having also participated in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the world’s largest youth football cup. While they emerged runners-up of the tournament in 2016, one of the team’s players was declared the Cup’s ‘Best Player’ in 2017.