19 jul ASA & Aktualiderazgo growing together
Another visit to Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA), India and another present waiting in store. Seeing the under-9 mixed gender football cup by my name was not only an honour, but the maiden mixed gender event confirmed that we are moving in the right direction in using sport for the development of the community as a whole in Anantapur.
Thanks to Miquel Lladó who introduced me in to ASA and its expereience in Anantapur. This was my third visit to ASA and I’ve gathered memorable experiences during each and every visit. I visit the place hoping to teach and share my knowledge with these young children but rather I return to Spain with bagful of new life lessons at the end.
This time around, we organized the maiden under-9 mixed gender football cup for the rural children of Anantapur. A total of 38 matches were played between 11 teams between 29th & 30th July. The cup was aimed to show these young rural children and the wider community about all the possible positive outcomes the children could receive upon playing football. The maiden mixed gender cup also broke the gender stereotypes prevailing in this part of the society as it was displayed that there’s no difference between boys & girls in these ages both in terms of their energy and enthusiasm for the game. The clearest evidence was also the best player award of the tournament was won by Anusha from Atmakur team. All the children including girls and boys played together during these couple of days without any prejudice that football is only for boys or men. The tournament displayed how both girls and boys can use the space and resources together to shine. I believe we have started a new chapter in promotion of girls participation in football in this place.
Another important aspect was the coexistence during these two days when the children travelled away from their families. The memorable experience away from home, and in a fair play environment over these two days is something that these children will never forget, I believe. Respect for the oponent, the referees, the coaches while enjoying the game, smiling, laughing was a beautiful sight to cherish.
Football is one the healthiest ways to set problems aside and clear your mind. It is healthy for the mind and healthy for the body. It also offers a way to share time with friends while doing sport, and it is a team sport where I should help my teammate, where I can ask for help if I need, where everybody must defend and atack together. A game where everybody either wins or learns together.
Those values are so important for children who had heard about them, but most of them they don’t know how to practice. That’s why the under-9 cup created an evironment where children experienced the above and hence was an extraordinaty success & I hope it is the first of many to come.
The last thing to highlight is the job of the coaches, referees & volunteers. Some of volunteers, part of the academy, are under the age of 15 but did a great job during the tournament helping the organizers. And some of the very young coaches who are starting with the young players need to know how to treat such young children which offers a new difficulty. Hence, we organized a three day workshop where we had mixed their eager to learn with my eager to share. I used group activities to grow their own knowledge and their understanding to develop their teams and their players.
Football is an uncountable source for learning, even more for the young people. So congratulations ASA for organizing the cup, and thank you so much for letting me be part of it. It is, as always, a big pleasure.