Updated: September 27, 2020 5:01:06 pm
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has rebranded the local tournament, Gostha Pal Championship, into AIFF’s Golden Baby League to keep children off the streets in Kolkata.
The tournament, which is named after the first footballer to receive the Padma Shri Award, has over 400 children participating in it in the City of Joy.
Samsul Alam, who is one of the league’s organisers, believes that the efforts to inculcate more children into football has helped improve their lives.
“We are basically a group of youths from our locality (in Central Kolkata), and our main aim was to help give a direction to the children in an age when there are so many distractions available for them all around,” said Alam to AIFF. “Whether it is the addiction of video games on the phone, or the spiralling addiction of alcohol or drugs, children, especially those on the streets are not safe from it.”
“But it’s been around two years since we have started the league now, and we have noticed a marked difference in the way they speak. It is because of football that they have learnt to respect their opponents, and by extension, the people around them in their daily lives as well,” Alam added.
Aditya Das, who has made a name for himself in his locality with his performances on the pitch at a very tender age, was enrolled in the league by his father Dinanath.
“I used to play in local tournaments when I was younger. But then I had to take over my father’s kachori-shop to feed our family. I’m happy to see that my son has also taken after my passion for football,” said Dinanath.
“Most of my customers throng to my shop early in the morning or in the afternoons, especially on weekends. That is why I am never able to visit my son’s matches or practice sessions. But I would like to see him pursue his dreams of football. They’re not just his dreams but mine as well. It would be great if he can live my dream someday and become a professional footballer.”
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