SHRUNGAR RAUL (CENTRE) WITH SOME OF THE CHILDREN HE TRAINS
Along with a college friend, Amol Sawant, 30, Shrungar Raul and Pervez Shaikh began teaching football to street children from Matunga, in Mumbai, later starting Anstrengung United, an NGO that today trains as many as 200 street children.
When we were in college, there were four street children who would beg for money outside our campus. Over time, we became friends with them. None of these children had been to school, and over time we realised they were getting addicted to drugs. Living on the streets, there were also the usual street fights and lack of nutrition and hygiene. After we finished college and got jobs, we decided to do something for them. Sports is a great unifying factor and also helps in self-development. It teaches discipline, team work, health and hygiene. So, we started Anstrengung United, which comes from a German word for ‘effort’—we added ‘United’ because we are all football fans and it symbolises team spirit. We found a no-man’s-land kind of space under the Matunga flyover, and started gathering these four children there every evening to play football. We also taught them other sports, like boxing, kabaddi and athletics. They started bringing their friends and the numbers grew. Our next mission was to get them into school. Convincing their parents was tough; begging was their livelihood. But we persisted, and they agreed to join the Mahatma Phule Education Trust school. We then began a sports training programme in that school, where we teach these four different sports. We have accomplished sportspersons training the children, like Dhananjay Mahadik, former captain of the hockey team and Helen Mary, a hockey coach. Although we now have a team of volunteers and trustees, funding remains a problem—sponsors are not very forthcoming. Last year, we organised a 10 km marathon and when the children went around seeking funds, it was tough. We usually chip in with contributions. Since Raul, who is known as Nanu to the children, works with Mumbai City FC, we also donated jerseys to the children.”
“Try to talk not with money but with words; share happiness, make it memorable for yourself.”