Foot­ball in Pallavi Raga!


The five years with Dream a Dream have seen Pallavi Shyam Sun­dar progress from a par­tic­i­pant in 2014 for a FIFA foot­ball fes­ti­val in Brazil to be­ing named as one of the Young Am­bas­sadors for Qatar’s Gen­er­a­tion Amaz­ing pro­gramme that aims to pro­mote de­vel­op­ment through foot­ball in the un­der­priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ties across the world.

Pallavi Shyam Sun­dar is all of 22. She is an ed­u­ca­tor, a foot­ball fa­cil­i­ta­tor and a change­maker whose per­sis­tent ef­forts have re­sulted in the con­ver­sion of a dump­yard into a play­ground in just two months.

In that very ground, she now teaches foot­ball and im­parts in­valu­able life skills to 150 school­child­ren of The Round Ta­ble School in Roopena Agra­hara, Ben­galuru, week in and week out. “Akka, akka..,” the cheer­ful jer­sey­clad boys and girls vie for her at­ten­tion and share their views and per­sonal sto­ries, all re­volv­ing around the day’s topic. From gen­der equal­ity to team­work to traf­fic rules, the top­ics vary with ev­ery ses­sion.

“It took me time to get them to open up, now even the kids who don’t dis­cuss dur­ing the group ses­sion come to me and per­son­ally share their thoughts,” she says. It is ev­i­dent they adore and look up to her. She is con­fi­dent, af­fir­ma­tive and has no trou­ble get­ting the ex­cited younglings latch on to ev­ery syl­la­ble she ut­ters.

To think she was once a shy in­tro­vert whose only so­lu­tion to prob­lems — some­times as sim­ple as a scold­ing from par­ents or teach­ers — was sui­cide. The fad­ing slit marks on her left wrist re­mind her ev­ery day of how far she has come.

The be­gin­ning

“In class ■, Dream A Dream, an NGO, came to my school to im­ple­ment a few pro­grammes. They had rugby, not foot­ball then, so I de­cided to en­rol in the com­puter and ca­reer con­nect pro­grammes,” she rec­ol­lects.


Three­in­one: Pallavi Shyam Sun­dar an ed­u­ca­tor, a foot­ball fa­cil­i­ta­tor and a change­maker in Ben­galuru.

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