We all have dreams in life. Dreams aren’t the one that is coming during sleep but the one that is not letting us sleep. It doesn’t mean that one can easily touch the pinnacle of success. The ones who translate their virtual dreams into reality are destined to taste good success.
The story of Sangeetha is one that needs to be told to inspire other youths of the nation. Who would have thought that a former child labour would go on to spice it up in football in the street world cup in Moscow and Scotland?
She was a class 9 drop out can proudly say that she has come a long way to achieve her dream in real life. Sangeetha faced so many difficulties in her life. Her alcoholic father abandoned the family when she was a kid.
She grew up seeing her mother and sister working constantly to back the five-member family. Following an eye operation, her mother was left jobless and her sister was only one to support the family. Breaking all the shackles, she steered the Indian football team at the Street Child Football World Cup held in Moscow, Russia, in May 2016.
“I dropped out of school in the 9th standard, when I was 13 years old, to help my family. My dad suffered from alcohol addiction and left us long ago. My mum and sister were working to support the family. But we weren’t able to make ends meet.
So I joined a steel vessel manufacturing firm across the street, where we had to melt old vessels, make new ones from the alloy and polish them. The job came with a high risk of Tuberculosis,” she was quoted as saying by the News Minute.
Sangeetha wasn’t someone who delved into disappointment when people said football isn’t meant for girls. But she was one who defied all the odds just like how Lionel Messi dribbles past the players with relative ease. This goes to show that how much passion she has for the game and she didn’t bat an eye what others told about her.
In an interview with dtnext, this bright prospect narrated her life on the street, how football has changed her completely. “People from my street look at me with a lot of admiration. To be honest, I am enjoying this phase of my life. I am glad that they’ve recognised my talent, finally,” she added.
Talking about discovering her talent and interest in football, she says, “Once I came across a group of boys playing football in a nearby ground. I got attracted to the sport and wanted to learn it — I conveyed it to Kannadas sir and he agreed to coach me. That was the beginning.”
The beautiful venture of playing football started when she stumbled across a group of girls from the streets where they began to build a good bond among themselves. Sadly, none of the grounds or parks opened their gates for them to play freely.
“This didn’t stop us — we started practising on Karuna-laya campus in Tondiarpet under the guidance of Kannadas sir. In 2015, I participated in the Slum Soccer Gamesa game held in the city. I represented Karunalaya’s girls’ team. We won the tournament and I was awarded the most promising player,” says Sangeetha who featured as the proud captain.
“You know, it’s not easy to live on the streets. Being a girl, I experience a lot of issues on a daily basis. We have to fight and face all the circumstances.”
In 2016, she was an integral part of the squad that represented India in the Homeless World Cup held in Glasgow, Scotland. “I was the only player from Tamil Nadu to be selected. Coming from such a background, I never imagined travelling in an airplane.
I was overjoyed. Having said that, getting the passport was a tough task — I didn’t have a birth certificate or an address proof to submit. We used to give the address of the nearby shop. But the officials didn’t give approval. But, Karunalaya director got involved and helped me get my passport and visa.”
Sangeetha also recalls her wonderful moment when she scored her first goal against Mexico at the Street Child World Cup 2018. “I felt like I’m on top of the world. It was a great exposure for all of us. We made friends with other children, who came from similar back-grounds. We had many stories to share,” remembers Sangeetha.
Sangeetha who has a deft control over the ball loves to dribbles past against the opponents just like professional footballers. She loves to teach other children as well on the street how to play the sport. “I want to join Civil Service and also play football.
I wish to start a football club for street children and train them for national and inter-national championships. Right now, my focus is on getting into the selection camp for the state football team,” she added.
Talking about her experience of living on the streets since childhood, Sangeetha has faced many challenges. When asked who is her favourite footballer is, she replies, “I like Ronaldo. But, my coach Kannadas sir is my inspiration,” she sums up. selections matches will be held in Chennai next week and I am looking forward to it.”
Sangeetha carved out a reputation for herself as a successful football player. The Youth wishes Sangeetha good luck in her future endeavours. Let’s share and spread her story maximum. Let’s make her famous by promoting this story and that’s the best gift we can gift to her.