BENGALURU: When Satish Kumar failed his SSLC exams a few years ago, he was so dejected at the thought of not knowing what life had in store for him. But a few years down the line, the 20-year-old, who chose to give his everything to football, has managed to make a name for himself. About a month-and-a-half ago, Kumar “couldn’t believe” that he had been selected to play in the Homeless World Cup in Brute Park, Cardiff, UK, an annual football tournament organised by the Homeless World Cup Foundation, a social organisation that advocates the end of homelessness through the sport.
Currently in Nagpur to undergo the second round of training before he leaves for Cardiff in mid-August, Kumar will be going on an all-expense paid trip sponsored by BookASmile, the charity initiative of BookMyShow, which has partnered with Slum Soccer to take 16 beneficiaries to Cardiff to attend this week-long football festival.
“I had lost my motivation after failing my 10th standard board examination. When I didn’t pass my exams, people suggested that I should take up a job. But since I had been playing football since I was in Class 6, I decided I should give it a try. But my family wasn’t convinced thinking that there was no life in this. But I wanted one chance to prove myself. And that required a lot of hard work. Reaching where I am today, despite family apprehensions, has been a big achievement,” says Kumar, who recalls having requested a coach in his area to teach him the sport.
Every once in a while, Kumar– whose father works as a painter, which helps takes care of only their basic expenses – takes up a handyman job of washing tiles which gives him Rs 300 a day. And with his earnings, he purchases gear – boots and stockings from locals stores –for himself. He’s been lucky to have got shoes from a well-wisher. “The turning point in my life came when I played the Bangalore league A division and qualified for the Bangalore Super Division in 2018,” he says.
Kumar’s gone from one achievement to the next, including playing the Slum Soccer’s National Inclusion Cup where he showed his talent and got selected to attend trials for the upcoming Homeless World Cup and has been finally selected as one of the representatives.
A typical day now includes two-and-a-half hours of practice in the morning and evening, which has intensified ahead of his departure. “We were told that the courts in foreign countries are different from the ones here,” he says, adding that at home he teaches underprivileged kids the game twice a week. “I want to show them how I reached where I have and what I did to be here,” he says.