Bringing The Beautiful Game To Dharwad


Enabling Leadership invests in innovative programs that develop leadership skills in underprivileged children using music and sports. We’ve been working on a few projects in the Philippines, Nepal, and India where our partner organizations have been using music and sports to develop leadership skills.

Earlier this year, we decided to foray into the rural space in India and designed a ‘Sports for Leadership’ program operating in 4 villages (Lakamapur, Timmapur, Karadiguda, and Pudakalakkati) near Dharwad in North Karnataka. Using football as a tool, we’re aiming to develop key leadership skills in these children.

When we first asked the children if they had played football, they had not even heard the word. Today, 6 months into the ‘Sports for Leadership’ program, we have a group of boys who not only enjoy playing football but are also learning important life skills like discipline, teamwork, and confidence. The 60-odd boys in the after school program are in the 9 to 14 age group and go to the local village government schools.

                                                          A training session underway in Dharwad

Since the inception of the program, we’ve partnered with Just For Kicks to drive the technical side of the program.They not only bring undying passion and love for the sport but also the rigor in content and training. They provide a well-rounded training program for Enabling Leadership’s sports coaches. Working backward from annual goals to monthly goals to weekly lesson plans, their curriculum has been critical in helping our coaches be keenly aware of their objectives. JFK’s experienced mentors visit our rural program areas regularly to work with our coaches and to conduct periodic assessments and impact measurement.

When I met with Vikas Plakkot, Co-Founder of Just For Kicks, for the first time, I was struck by how far they had come in the few years of operation. While they had a robust curriculum, they were willing to adapt and innovate their curriculum to suit the needs of children in rural India. It has been extremely encouraging to see the team at Just For Kicks developing new training modules for us.

Needless to say, it has not been an easy ride thus far. There is a significant difference in the foundation of sport and ideologies of leadership among the children in rural India as opposed to urban India. The children lack exposure to most sports barring cricket. Hiring the right coaches has been even more of a challenge as there is a significant dearth of quality coaches and the city-based coaches are unwilling to relocate to the villages.

While we are tackling the issues one by one, we believe that the learnings will aid both ELF and Just For Kicks in designing a well-rounded program that can be taken to lot more villages around India. While our partnership with Just For Kicks is in its infancy, we are very excited to be working with them towards our common vision of seeing our kids go out into the world as confident motivated global citizens, with a love for football.



Written by:

Aparna Nayyampalli

Program Manager, Enabling Leadership Foundation

Just For Kicks Written by:

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