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AIFF Media Team


NEW DELHI: Special – Adjective - Better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual (Oxford Dictionary). Society in recent years has been more inclusive of folks who fall under the ‘special’ bracket and this has reflected in all spheres of life, including football. Keeping this spirit in mind Tamil Nadu state Grass Roots Instructor Shailesh Karkera with the help of AIFF Grass Roots Instructor Anju Turambekar conducted a Football Festival at the Krida Arena in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu on July 23.


25 special-needs children and 30 parent and youth volunteers were a part of this Festival. The participants were all students and staff members of Saadhya School for Special Children along with their parents headed by Principal Champa Jaiprakash who is a thirty-year veteran in the field of disabilities, licensed football coaches from local academies and Dr. Avinash Jaiswal, a Sports Physiotherapist and FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine holder.


Kids with special needs are hyperactive, have a low attention span, poor body coordination, socially inactive and struggle to express themselves freely. All kids were assigned individual 'buddies' (volunteers) and taken through a series of activities involving coordination exercises, colour identification games and basic football motor skills like shooting, dribbling, running with the ball and passing.


Karkera shared the objectivity of the whole programme, “The primary objective is to have fun and that is what children football is all about. Many special-needs kids have trouble making friends and socializing, in part because they have challenges reading social and emotional cues. Being involved in sports bond and develop friendships through the game.”

“It is humbling to work with these special bunch of kids. Being a parent to a special child is a very stressful and emotionally draining experience and I have the utmost respect for them for they are all heroes”, added the instructor.


“The children had no inhibitions immediately after seeing the ground and ball they started playing spontaneously. Every child has the right to enjoy the fun of playing sports. Who are we to discriminate?” opined Mrs. Jaiprakash.


This festival is the first of many such planned special-kids’ initiatives to be undertaken in Coimbatore. Under the AIFF Grassroots Umbrella, they intend to hold these festivals more frequently including plans of conducting a festival on April 2 (World Autism Day) on a large scale targeting many such schools across the state.


Posted on : Wednesday August 09, 2017