A simple football was all that Dr Vijay Barse, a Sports Teacher at the Hislop College in Nagpur required to change the fortunes of several kids living on the streets.
Barse, watching children from the slums enjoying themselves merrily kicking around a broken plastic bucket in the rain, was overwhelmed by their behaviour and decided to do something for them.
“One rainy day in July 2001, I was forced to take shelter under a tree and noticed a bunch of street kids playing football with a broken bucket in the slushy ground. I was so thrilled that I decided to go back to college and return with a ball and hand it to the boys,” Barse told HT from Nagpur. “I asked them if they were interested in playing football on a proper ground at the college and they answered in the affirmative.”
“That prompted me to start a foundation to rehabilate the youth from the slums and streets. With my wife Prof (Mrs) Ranjana and son Dr Abhijeet, we founded the Krida Vikas Sanstha Nagpur (KSVN).”
KSVN runs football programmes and provides the most disadvantaged society members a chance to play competitive football. “The two hours spent playing football helps inspire and educate them. It also keeps them away from bad habits like pick pocketing, taking to drugs or alcohol, and petty crimes or violence,” 64-year-old Barse said.
Having set the ball rolling, Barse took it a step forward and spread the programme to other districts in Maharashtra. Barse, with support from a few close friends, planned out matches and launched the first Jhopadpatti football tournament, a state level event in 2003 in Nagpur.
“A total of 15 districts from Maharashtra, including the tribal belt of Gadricholi, who emerged champions, participated in the tournament.”
The same year a national level event, the All India Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Jhopadpatti football tournament, was conducted in Nagpur. Twelve states participated in the inaugural tournament, which Orissa won with Maharashtra finishing runners-up.
Barse said that in 2006 he learnt from the internet that a Homeless World Cup was held annually and went to watch the 4th edition in Cape Town, South Africa. India participated in the following edition in Copenhagen, Denmark and also took part in the Melbourne event in 2008.