Changing lives of Naxal affected Abujmaad Youths through Football

In the recently held International Subroto Mukherjee U17 Football Cup at Delhi, the children of Abujmaad, a heavily Naxal affected area, represented the Chhattisgarh team.

In the recently held International Subroto Mukherjee U17 Football Cup at Delhi, the children of Abujmaad, a heavily Naxal affected area, represented the Chhattisgarh team.

This year Subroto cup grabbed a lot of eyeballs because of the increase in number of participation from foreign countries as well as from various schools in India – one such team came from the Naxal affected regions of Narayanpur district in Chhattisgarh

The children of Abujmaad, a heavily Naxal-affected area of ​​the state, were a part of International Subroto Mukherjee U-17 football Cup. Representing the Chhattisgarh team, the young lads of  Ramakrishna Mission Ashram have shown their ability in the game of football at International stage in the recently held tournament in New Delhi.

The team played three games in the tournament picking up a win, a draw and a loss each. In the opening game, despite taking the lead, the team suffered a huge 7-1 loss. They came out strong in the next encounter against team from Uttarakhand with Shanker Salam scoring the winner early in the 2nd half. This was followed by another inspired performance against Gujarat holding them to a 1-1 draw with Shankar Salam once again chipping in on goal.

Although the journey ended in the group stage itself for these youngsters, it is important to understand this was by no means an easy feat. Under Coach Hanumant Rao and Team manager Lokendra Singh Thakur, the young lads representing Chhattisgarh have shown their hunger for more.

Abujmaad, a city more infamous for its heavy Naxal activities, has in the last couple of years become a regular presence in nurturing local footballers. In Ramakrishna Mission Ashram of Narayanpur, the children of Abujhmaad are provided with free academic education, music and sports training. The children are picked from remote and backward locations of the area (Some even living in remote villages within the Jungles), with no access to any kind of schooling, they are further trained to become doctors, engineers, sportsperson or even professors.

These hardworking and talented children are given strict training as well as education to boost them in the field of sports and academies. Each year around 50-60 students get opportunities at national level tournaments. The ashram help ensure there is a bright future for these children. Sahitya Ashram’s secretary Swami Vyapatananda Maharaj and Principal Maharaj Swami Krishan Mritanand have played a crucial role in the development of these young lads. From managing their academic portions, health and training to any issue they face, all are taken care off ensuring the students are pressure free.

The Secretary said that, ‘We at Ramakrishna Mission Ashram try to ensure that every child of Abujhmad is at least taken to the national level so that the future of these children is bright. For this, we cater to every need of children and also help them to succeed.’

Last year, Suresh Kumar Dhruv, studying at the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram in the district, went on to represent India in the Asian School Football Championship 2018 held in Agra. In 2017, during the 62nd National School games of India which was held in Mumbai, Coach Hanumant Rao led his team to victory to become the first coach from Chhattisgarh to win the trophy. After an heartbreaking Subroto Cup campaign, Hanumant next aims to take his team to Tripura in December for the 64th edition of National School games of India.

Despite the lack of quality basic facilities, the passion of these children for the game and their desire to do something has become an inspiring lesson for all the people of this deeply Naxal-affected area. Football in its own way has ensured that they get that means to express and has now also become a career opportunity. The enthusiastic youngsters were keen on pursuing future in the game and wanted a chance to play at the national level, if not for the nation at the moment.


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