Goal of Life... The Kutumb Foundation's football programme that seeks to go beyond football

Goal of Life...to learn important lessons for life through the game of  football.
The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people. - K. Patricia Cross

The spirit of Goal of Life is embedded in these inspirational words.

Goal of Life is one of The Kutumb Foundation’s pioneering projects. It is an effort to bring a better life to the children who live on Delhi’s streets and slums. Initiated in 2002, football was seen as a medium to enable underprivileged children living on the streets and in slums all over the city to play together, combining the development of their talent with the inculcation of a sense of unity of purpose and positive harmony in relationships. Goal of Life thus goes beyond football. It is an attempt to reach out to these children living in disadvantaged sections of society, and to nurture the strengths and leadership skills of each child and thus enable them to have happier, healthier lives.

Why Football?

Football is a simple game that requires little or almost no resources. It is the ultimate street game, the common man’s game. It is a game that is accessible to anyone and everyone. A person who can’t afford fancy sports paraphernalia can play the game easily. We at Kutumb believe that football is a great game to appeal to children and a very effective medium in teaching essential life-skills such as: discipline, dedication concentration, decision-making, team-building and leadership, along with the fun that accompanies the game!

Apart from the regular classes held in different parts of the city, Goal of Life is celebrated through a large-scale event. The last few years have seen teams from as many as 24 NGOs come together at Raghubir Singh Modern School to participate in a FIFA game style format of knockouts and finals rounded up by nail biting finishes that continue to leave the spectators spellbound! The first edition of Goal of Life in 2002 had the privilege of being inaugurated by the Indian Football Team led by its then coach, Stephen Constantine, and captain, Baichung Bhutia!

Evolving with time, Goal of Life, 2005, was an effort to rid the game of the proverbial ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ element, by doing away with the competitive format of NGO-based teams. The teams were instead mixed up in order to balance the players, who were as a result, able to work better on their talents. The newly-devised league format included training and practice time for the young players. The vision was to combine the development of their talent with the inculcation of a sense of unity of purpose and positive harmony in relationships.

Kutumb created pools of four NGOs, out of which balanced teams were created. In this process, children from at least 4 NGOs formed each team. The teams were given interesting names, such as Jaanbaaz, Khatra, Khoonkhar and Qayamat. Kutumb’s volunteers conducted training and leagues for these children through four weekends of September and the first weekend of October. The ultimate aim of this new Goal of Life was to work on confidence, strategy, and team skills of the child. In a wonderful act granting recognition to the role that Goal of Life has played in enhancing the importance of football in the lives of underprivileged children, the Premier India Football Academy sponsored seven children from the tournament to be part of a soccer workshop conducted by the Bobby Charlton Academy from England. This was an unprecedented opportunity for the children and we at The Kutumb Foundation are happy and proud to have been selected for this honour.

This year too we are planning to hold the Goal of Life event in October/November. This event will include several NGOs whose children will be invited to participate in the Goal of Life matches in the same format as used in earlier years. Finally, we hope to bring many more children from all over the city within the fold of Goal of Life, reach out to children in need, and provide the much-needed space to learn through observation and exchange of ideas, through teamwork and competition, through play and discipline, and through football, the essential life-skills that will equip them to handle their lives better...

There are several ways you can help Goal of Life reach it's goals!

1. Regular donations: The costs of the programme that need regular support include the fees of the coaches/resource persons who have come through the programme and for whom it is now serving as a career alternative; cost of food items; cost of kits and learning resources; travel, documentation and coordination costs.

2. Participation as resource person/s in various areas: Volunteers are required to pitch in as occasional football trainers/players, formal and non-formal educators, to impart a skill such as a craft or dance form that one may know, or to participate in the documentation and impact evaluation process. Kutumb is also looking to create a toolkit for Goal of Life mentors, and volunteers are required to help in framing and executing it along with the regular coaches/resource persons.

3. Providing kits and learning resources: If you have learning resources that may help in imparting life skills or formal/non-formal educational resources that you would wish to share with us, please do so! Also, if you would rather provide aid in kind than in cash, we regularly require kits for children in the various localities, including shoes, clothes and footballs, as well as materials for the other classes that are held alongside.

4. Organising nutritious food for the children coming to the regular Goal of Life classes: The children who come to us at these localities require nutritious food on a regular basis, and more so if they are to have the energy to play and study! Food is also a great motivator and will, we hope, attract truly needy children to us and help keep them off other temptations, which are often the result of lack of food.

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