By Our Correspondent | Opening Doorz Editorial | June 14, 2018
FIFA World Cup 2018 kicked off yesterday in Russia and among the 32 nations that have qualified and the many that tried and lost (Italy and Netherlands among them), there will be many giant footballers with humble beginnings, with stories of having no access to education or sports.
Everyone is familiar with Mario Balotelli, the fearsome Italian striker, who donates generously for worthy causes. He was born in Palermo, Sicily as the son of Ghanaian immigrants and had tough growing-up years. His own family was unable to pay for his healthcare needs.
Then we have Diego Maradona, who too has come from humble beginnings, born to a poor family that had moved from Corrientes Province in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
At Don Bosco, Matunga, Mumbai, Fr. Glenford Lowe and Fr. McEnroe Lopes began the Oratory last year opening doorz to their spacious playing arena to the poor and marginalized youth of the city, who dwell in the nearby slums.
Apart from the many games and education that they have benefitted from, most, in the last six months, have become improved footballers, practicing, playing and being coached in the right manner at the Don Bosco grounds.
Amish Shetty from Kings Circle, who has been coming to the oratory for the last six months, reveals that he has been playing soccer since his childhood, but since the last few months, he has improved a lot. “I play centre-back and I am learning the art to tackle players. I practice for two hours daily and I work hard at my game. One day I want to play for India,” he says with confidence.
With Fr. Glenford’s supervision and coach Jose Dayamanakkal inputs, the boys go through the grind daily. Shiv Yadav from Mahim has been coming here since the last two months and has already improved in his soccer-playing skills. “I learnt about the Oratory from another boy and I started coming here. I’m learning a lot and since I’m a striker, my aim is to score a lot of goals.” He is thankful to the Priests of Don Bosco for opening this facility for them.
Prakash who is also part of the Oratory is now learning the finer nuances of the game. “Initially, I only knew how to pass the ball. Now I have understood how one changes the game, anticipates a pass and set’s a teammate to score a goal,” he says.
All these boys have only one goal in common: getting better at soccer. And for that the Priests at Don Bosco are looking for sponsors to introduce meals and a proper diet schedule for them. “Most of them don’t get proper meals at home and it is difficult for them to play a strenuous sport like soccer. We have had large-hearted people who have donated generously and are looking for like-minded people,” reveals Fr. Glenford.
Balatoli and Maradona went on to rule the world stage; one day, these boys will surely move on to play soccer at a higher level in India.
(Those willing to help these boys shape up to be giant footballers can get in touch with Fr. Glenford Lowe or Fr. McEnroe Lopes at Don Bosco, Matunga.)
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