When he caught the glimpses of football matches during his street-dwelling days, Babu K neither thought he would score a goal nor dreamt of captaining a football team.
Six years after he found shelter in Janaseva Sisubhavan, and having proved his mettle on the play field, Babu captained the Kerala Under-13 team in the national championship this season.
He had the honour of receiving a memento from Union Minister for Urban Poverty Alleviation Ajay Maken during the inaugural function of GOAL 2013 inter-collegiate football tournament being organised by ‘The New Indian Express’ at the Sacred Heart College Ground in Thevara.
“I felt very happy that I was able to accept an award from a minister when I think of my past. I am especially delighted to have seen Mammootty from close,” said the confident 13-year-old.
On his ambition, the admirer of Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta said: “I want to grow into a good player who scores a lot of goals, either as a midfielder or a forward. Currently, I am playing as a wing back and am working on my passing skills and ability to control high balls.”
A Class IX student of Mar Athanasius HS, Athani, he hones his talent with commitment and hours of focused practice.
Exposed to the darker side of life at a tender age, Babu - along with his brother Bandu - eked out a living by begging on various trains under the harsh eyes of his father who treated the family from Karnataka brutally, said Janaseva chairman Jose P Maveli.
“The brothers moved from train to train pleading with passengers for money. They pestered everyone fearing the punishment if they could not offer the lump sum demanded by their father, who would then spend it all on drinks,” Jose said.
Thus continued their grinding days, missing out all the fun and frolic that children of their age are eligible to until one day they alighted in Aluva and the train left without them. Their behaviour caught the attention of the police who informed Janaseva activists. Learning from newspaper reports, Babu’s mother visited her sons and was delighted on seeing them happy and secure.
“She entrusted her two daughters Roopa and Jyothi also at the shelter for the deprived children. Unable to bear the torture of her husband, the mother too sought solace for herself and her two-year-old at our home. Ever since, Babu is living with his siblings and mother,” the Janaseva chairman said.
When not on the field, Babu explores his potential on stage. A talented actor, Babu has acted in the Malayalam movie Yakshiyum Njanam. Warm and cheerful, Babu is good in academics as well.
“Babu is an extraordinary talent. He is not just a promising footballer but also a good actor,” said his coach Solly Xavier. “He is dedicated and has the quality to play in any position. If he keeps improving at this rate, he has the potential to play for India one day.”
Former international C C Jacob, under whose care Babu took the first steps in the game three years ago, feels the boy has the basics to be a good player.
“It is too early to say whether he will become big player or not but if he keeps his focus and works hard, he has a bright future,” Jacob said.