As teachers, Neha and I have been passionate about football. We knew how to work with it to teach – probably even better than the classroom subjects. So we used it to our advantage and built a team that was equally driven to use football as the transformational learning vehicle.
Education had to be way more than sitting and listening in a classroom and then scoring good marks. Football worked as the magic tool for us.
When Just For Kicks was launched in 2011, we were driven by an ambition to make our children more adept at skills that’ll lead them through life successfully. Combined with a deep belief in the power of sport, we turned to football as a vehicle to get us to that goal.
The journey has taken us quite far, to six cities, to 3000 children, to more than a hundred schools, where children are reaping benefits from the magic of a football.
But, did we ever think football’s the only way to enable life skills and leadership skills in children? Not really. But, we always believed that we’d to keep our focus on one tool to be excellent at what we do, to get us through our first phase of laying the foundation.
In 7 years of working on character development for young children, we’ve realised the beauty of alternate forms of learning creatively. Along the way, many children wanted to indulge in art, music, dance, theatre, and even other sports. Unfortunately, we couldn’t offer other avenues for these children. But we were able to engage increasing numbers with football.
When we began working in the rural areas of Dharwad around 2016, we were exposed to new ways of teaching and learning with music and LEGO. What we saw was not very different from our program with football; in fact, all these ways of learning were only giving children diverse options to choose and grow faster while having a lot of fun!
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Over the years a lot of people have asked us a very important question – Do you intend to venture out of football? What about some other sport? Neha and I have dodged that question most of the time, but today we’re taking it head-on.
Yes, we’re expanding our wings beyond football – to other mediums to impart critical leadership skills that make children more society-ready, more employable.
We are joining hands with a global non-profit, Enabling Leadership, that has been supporting programs like ours in various Asian countries, and another inspiring organisation, Music Basti that’s been engaged in outstanding work using music in education in the Delhi-NCR region.
Through multiple specialised programs like Just For Kicks and Music Basti, we, as Enabling Leadership, will now march towards our goal of a million children with more ferocity than ever before. Over the course of time, we may add more programs that’ll work within the same ideology and framework, allowing us to speak the language of many more children than we’ve ever been able to.
From this day forward, we’re Enabling Leadership. No matter which name we operate under, our passion for the cause is undying. We hope you’ll tag along with us on our new journey.