The Gaurs’ development league and Forca Goa Foundation are working in tandem with the school to help underprivileged communities.

Little Gaurs League (LGL), organised by FC Goa’s sister concern, the Forca Goa Foundation, is currently being held across Goa. The ongoing third edition of the baby league has already created several success stories, be it in terms of players’ development or communities coming together in the name of the beautiful game.

LGL’s and Forca Goa Foundation’s work with Kiran Niketan is a prime example of how football can be the perfect means for the upliftment of communities. A school for the underprivileged, Kiran Niketan works with young children and strives to empower them through both formal and value education.

This is also where Forca Goa Foundation fits into the equation, as they have initiated the children there to football.

“We see football not just as a sport for the children of Kiran Niketan, but also as a tool for their overall development,” Nirav Shetye, their coach said. “Football will help them develop physically, but that’s not all. The game teaches them several values in life like discipline, punctuality, teamwork and so on, and those are also part of our objectives.

“These are kids who are facing several challenges in their personal lives as well. A lack of proper guidance leaves them susceptible to engage in anti-social activities and to become victims of child labour and child marriages among other vices.

“We believe that football can be used effectively to steer the children away from such situations, and also give them a platform to develop as players,” Shetye explained.

Under Shetye and program head Curcino Sanchez, Kiran Niketan registered two teams in the Little Gaurs League this season – one each in the U-8 and U-10 category. Their training started as early as in October last year, and Curcino testified that the kids who signed up improved vastly in a short span of time.

“When they joined, they had very little knowledge of the sport. From there to now, both the boys and the girls have developed well. From just learning to play football, to being part of Goa’s best grassroots league – it’s not very easy,” he said.

The Kiran Niketan U-8 team began their LGL campaign with a dominant 5-0 win and followed it up with four more victories. They are currently among the strongest contenders for the trophy, much to the joy of Shetye and Sanchez.

“They have progressed so well. Most of the kids at Kiran Niketan are naturally talented, which was a big surprise to us. It was like we had unearthed a whole treasure trove of bright talents out of nowhere. Now, the onus lies on us to help them continue developing their abilities,” Shetye said.

The teams’ participation in the LGL did not happen very easily. “We had very little support from the parents, who wanted their children to help them at work and start earning a living. That we did not have sponsors did not help us either,” Sanchez explained.

“The kids lacked basic requirements, such as football boots, shin guards, jerseys, shorts and socks. The staff at FC Goa rushed to our aid on a few occasions and thanks to them we have been able to arrange these for some of them but not everyone. I can see many children who want to join us, and we’re still looking for kind people to sponsor their needs.

“It would also be great if we can get more coaches to work with them,” he added.

Sanchez and Shetye also spoke highly of some of the Kiran Niketan players who have impressed in the ongoing LGL edition.

“There is Akash Kujur who is the team’s top-scorer with four goals to date. Ayush Velip is a natural defender, with his fearlessness and amazing stamina. Of the girls, we have Tamanna Jatav who has had a really rough childhood before she was introduced to us. Now, she loves playing football and is eager to make a career out of the sport.

“We hope to continue helping them develop their footballing abilities, and also to use the sport positively to make them better human beings,” they signed off.

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