The former Football World Cup champion and actor Frank Leboeuf visited Dharavi today, the 25th June 2012 to host a football training for the Reality Gives’ Girls Football Program. Leboeuf is currently in India to present the UEFA European Football Championship 2012.
|Leboeuf hanging out with the Reality Gives Team in the Reception Center|
|The girls were already waiting for the famous player.|
The French Ex-football player who is famous for his performance during the final match of the Football Worldcup 1998 when France won against Brazil 3:0, wanted to use his sports background to address the social issues he sees every day in Mumbai. Reality Gives sees his work with the girls as a huge source of encouragement for them and hopes it will inspire dedication and motivation to the sport.
First Leboeuf came to pick up the girls from the Reality Gives Community Center to walk with them and the coaches through the narrow allies of Dharavi to the ground at Mahim Junction Station. As he reached he was negatively surprised at the bad conditions the girls were playing football in – the ground was floated, covered with big stones and packed with a lot of people. But he realized soon that playing football in Dharavi is just different from anywhere else. “These girls actually don’t mind if they play in dirt, in the rain and without shoes. They just enjoy the game and have fun – that’s inspiring!” he said after the training. “We had a lot of fun playing with Frank.. He’s a good player,” young player Mansi (11) said, ”but after two month training we were also very good playing against him!”
We started this unique football program in Dharavi in May 2012. Twenty girls attend the training every day. We hope to reach 70 girls after the first year and 100 at the end of the second year. “Reality Gives is doing great work for the community of Dharavi, also apart from football. I wish them very good luck for the future” Leboeuf mentioned impressed.
Since the program started our coaches Arnand (22), Meena (15) and Sunita (16) as well as Ashok, our supporting coach from Oscar foundation noticed the following points of improvement and challenges:
- Players’ confidence higher. Physical strength & endurance has increased, and physical courage—less fear (heading the ball, etc)
- Enjoying themselves, smiling a lot. Making friends, respecting each other, more peer-learning.
- Disciplined, listening to coaches, respecting their space (now they don't litter), learning capacity increased, time management (waking up early), bringing water bottles to field (small thing, but we've noticed it's a good indication of planning, memory and discipline).
- Parents’ response is good. June 3 was a parents’ meeting. Now they even started to help find a better ground and save for kit.
- What we have to do to improve the program: Girls should have shoes (ground condition is rough). They have to save about a third of the price of balls and shoes through team-run savings cooperatives, which builds dedication to the program. Coaches started to encourage them and their parents.
- BIG CHALLENGE: with school starting risk of drop-outs increase. So coaches need to be fully aware now of how to manage that. Training starts now instead of morning 6.30am at 6.30pm after school.
- Ashok talked to the girls of the program and they said the following: "When we’re small, our mothers control us. When we get older, our brothers control us. Then we get married, our husbands control us. Then when we’re older, our children control us." Ashok encouraged them to think of a career where they would be in charge of their own futures (e.g., air hostess, police officer, football coach). Girls liked that.
On Sunday, the 1st July 2012 Reality Gives will host a charity event for the Girls Football Program at Cool Chef Café in Worli. To fundraise for the project there will be a foosball competition, a barbecue as well as a screening of the final EURO match 2012. Entry is Rs300 and the foosball competition participation fees Rs700. A share of the profits will support the Dharavi Girls Football Program.