Football can be taken forward through fun and competition and Dempo SC continued its way forward by introducing around sixty odd youngsters – in the age bracket of six to 12 – from Old Goa during its fourth annual grassroots development programme at the Dempo SC Academy ground in Ella, Old Goa on Friday.

Girls and boys; small and little big enjoyed the two hours where activities were crafted by Dempo SC Technical Director Anju Terumbekar.

The idea is to spread the magic of football in schools around the area. Through these activities, the fun of playing with the ball is being seeded into these children. Hopefully, they will go home and recollect the happy memories of this evening and it will generate interest in their parents,” stated Anju as youngsters enjoyed the bounce of the ball.

Anju, who before joining Dempo SC, was the lead figure in introducing the Baby League in India hopes that by getting the schools around the Dempo SC Academy involved a system will fall in place for the creation of a Baby League for all the six schools in the area.

We have been interacting with six schools in our area and the response has been good. We are in the process of creating a system to lay the foundations of a Baby League for the teams from these schools. It is just not about getting the children to play but to get the parents involved,” explained Anju.

We are in the process of educating the Physical Education (PE) teachers of schools, providing schools with logistic support in the form of the services of our coaches and planning ways of getting the parents to the stadium,” elaborated Anju.

The seventy odd girls and boys at the grassroots programme in Ella were put through various games monitored by the Dempo SC coaches and the lads from the Dempo SC Academy. The seventy odd children were split into seven groups, all using a part of the football ground.

I have come here because one day I want to be a football player. This is first time that I am coming here and I want to come again. They are teaching us nice games …… My dream is to be a football player because you can make a lot of money playing,” said eleven-year-old Pawan Naik from SSV Government High School.

Though there were not many guardians who came along to see or cheer their siblings, the few who came were encouraged with the programme.

They should have such events at least twice a month. My son studies in Sharda Mandir and I have brought him here because he wants to be a goalkeeper and will be attending the trials for children wanting to join the Dempo SC Academy,” stated Raju Roulekar, father of a ten-year-old lad at the programme.

We have invited girls for this programme because football is for all. We might not be having any plans for girls at the moment but we are thinking long term. I was myself a football player and by encouraging girls we are creating a path on which we could tread when the time arises,” stated Anju.