ASA Grassroots Football Festival: Inclusion, participation and the beautiful game
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A football festival designed to spread a footballing culture and provide rural children with a platform to express themselves and learn to enjoy sport.

Do I want to be a footballer? Yes, yes that’s my dream” – Ramya, 12, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Close to 700 children from the Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) celebrated the Asian Football Federation (AFC) Grassroots Football Day at various locations across the Anantapur district in India on 12 and 13 May.

Grassroots football is about giving every child an opportunity to learn and develop. Football is for everyone, whatever their age, background, gender, religion or ethnicity. Inclusion and participation are major objectives of ASA and thus the AFC Grassroots Football Day has become an important date in the ASA calendar.

In Anantapur, the Grassroots Football Festival has provided rural children with a stage and an environment where they can express themselves and form new relationships and bonds. It has helped them learn more about values that are of great importance both in sports and in life, such as teamwork, fair play and respect for others.

Starting in 2016, the festival has steadily grown in the district and this can be seen through increased participation and involvement from the local community.

The ASA Football Project Manager Dada Khalander agreed, saying, “The players really enjoy the Grassroots Festival. Every child gets to participate in all the activities and you can really see their engagement and interest.

The children participating were of different age groups and genders but they got along seamlessly. The activities took place at four grassroots centres over two days and included small-sided games, basic football drills and fun games such as the chain game and ‘Dog and Bone’.

Some of the children had never kicked a football in their lives but were more than eager to learn. Spreading a football and sporting culture in local communities is a key objective of ASA and thus it is vital that there are more amateurs getting involved in the activities. This is an event that can spark their interest in the sport.

It's something very different for the children because they can just go out and play. We want to continue to grow the outreach of the programme and try to get every one of our football grassroots centres to host it. I hope that this gets more kids to enjoy the game and start playing more football”, said Vamshi, the Grassroots Coordinator at ASA.

Watching children enjoy a fun-filled occasion such as this can also help parents and other members of communities realise the importance of sport and the beneficial role it can play in a child’s life. Speaking about the impact the event has had on the local community, ASA Director Sai Krishna Pulluru explained, “The Grassroots Festival does play a key role in the community. It isn’t just about coaching football, but about promoting our objectives of inclusion, participation and gender equality right from a young age.”



Football (Soccer)

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