Namaste! Freestyling innovation from India to the world
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As the debate on innovation rages in the sports for development sector, freestyle football is emerging as a new tool to enhance social inclusion.

Innovation in sport and development has been a conversation that hasn’t been exhausted yet, owing to the fact that different experts including researchers, donors, universities, federations and communities hosting these programmes still express their reservations on various issues ranging from sustainability to relevance -- most of which are linked to credibility issues affecting the sport being used to implement a particular initiative. For instance, when a sport such as athletics is gripped with doping scandals, communities may develop mistrust in its potential to improve their lives.

The question of innovation in the sport and development sector will therefore need to be argued further since sport in itself is considered an empty shell. Further, since it is considered a science and its display is an art the different artistic elements that are essential in ensuring total enjoyment and healthy living need to be fully unleashed.

As therapeutic as it is, football in particular has given birth to many different forms that include futsal, beach soccer, table soccer and many others. Each of these has specific values that can be derived to encourage positive living.

One of the pioneers in innovative football applications in social impact programmes is Sparky Football. It has been at the forefront in "making people’s wounds proud" around the world, as their motto suggests. The India-based organisation that mostly adopts free-styling has played a major crusader role in teaching social values such as social inclusion, access to recreation and sports, literacy skills and healthy living, to mention but a few.

Spearheaded by Tejas, Sparky Football has demonstrated that freestyle football isn’t just about entertaining audiences but it can be a powerful tool in achieving sustainable development goals.

With many organisations using conventional sports to achieve their own programme objectives, Sparky football has come out to illustrate the need to adopt new methods in implementing sports for development activities, whether it's in New Delhi, Bombay, Karnataka or Lyon. Such novel intentions have seen Sparky Football’s efforts being showcased at the UEFA Euro 16 as well as TEDX.

While continuously adapting to new methods of engaging beneficiaries through sports is a topic that needs to be explored further, impact, sustainability and ethics must not be wished away.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]



Social Development through Football Organiser
Ona Ink


Football (Soccer)