The midfielder is an orphan, the team’s goalkeeper lives in a slum while as the coach has never seen his parents. Welcome to Compassion FC – a local football club specially for orphans, slum kids and children of single parents.
The team, which has been fittingly named ‘Compassion FC’, is currently giving training to 25 players in Under-14 age group. The trainees are gearing up to take part in Goa Football League next month – their first mega event since the club started this year.
The team’s coach Prakash Khatri is not expecting a miracle at the league.
“We are still infants when it comes to professional football. Our intention is to involve these kids and develop relationships between them,” Khatri, who’s in his early 20s, told InUth.
It was Khatri’s life which led to the idea behind ‘Compassion FC.’
“Khatri has been living with us since many years and he gave us the idea. He gave us a perspective on the role of sports in developing empathy and leadership,” Kennedy D’Silva, the founder of Compassion FC, told InUth.
According to D’Silva, the team was chosen from among some 300-400 odd kids from different shelter homes and orphanages across the state, who are getting help from their initiative ‘Compassion.’
“We have been a lot work with the children from orphanages and slums in Goa since last 5-6 years. This year, we thought of registering our football club with Goa Football Association (GFA) so that they can get a platform to participate in the GFA league,” D’Silva, who’s the founder of Christian missionary group John Paul II Foundation for Sports, said.
The idea, according to D’Silva, is to train these boys in not only football but life-skills.
“One day, we want to see some of them play for the nation,” he added.
However, the foundation realizes the kind of financial support and resources it needs to run a professional football club. Currently, the team is trying to pool in resources from sundry partnerships, donations, charities and funding drives.
For Khatri, on the other hand, the team-building is the priority.
“Sports will keep them busy and away from bad stuff. Football is very famous in Goa and many of these kids always aspire to play but they don’t get to. Even if they get to play and show their talent, they are not entertained by other clubs due to lack of proper kits and logistics necessary for practice. Many of them don’t even get proper food. Once they are under the umbrella of a club exclusively for them, they get proper diet and nutrition which is essential for the game,” Khatri explained.
For now, the team, which involves players from every region of the coastal state, practice only thrice a week.
“I feel very happy that football is giving them a platform to gel with others. It also helps them to realize there are many people like them which leads to empathy. More importantly, being in a team gives them a sense of belonging, love and brotherhood. We are already scoring goals on that front,” Khatri added.