Legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan is in Nagpur to shoot for Nagraj Manjule’s first Hindi film ‘Jhund’.
The film is based on the life of 73-year-old Vijay Barse, the founder of a city-based NGO Slum Soccer, which works towards upliftment of the underprivileged, foster sustainable development of the poor and provide long term solution of homelessness through football.
But who is Vijay Barse?
Back in 2001, Barse was working as a sports teacher at Nagpur’s Hislop College. Coming from an underprivileged background himself, Barse was inspired by some slum kids who were playing football with a broken bucket on a rainy Saturday.
This gave birth to a soccer club for children and a dream that eventually changed the lives of thousands of slum kids.
The plan though, wasn’t that easy to implement. After forming the club, Barse wanted his team to play competitive football. He knocked on the doors of many colleges, but no one agreed to play.
Problem: the social divide.
College teams showed unwillingness to play a match with the ‘jhopadpatti kids’.
Child of a policeman, Barse made his mind to fight injustice and find a way to get competitive matches for the kids. He approached a journalist friend to put an article in the newspaper to advertise about a district Zopadpatti Football tournament, where football teams from slum areas would compete against each other.
As a result, 128 teams registered themselves in the competition. This is how, Slum Soccer came into existence. There were no team jerseys, so Barse asked one of the two teams to play topless, the other wore t-shirts. Winning team gets featured in newspapers and the losing team gets a football from Barse (that way the losing team keeps playing football).
The rules of the competition were very simple: If a player gets involved in physical assaults or clashes, he gets benched.
As Barse says, “I do not want to promote football. I want to promote development through football.”
What started in Nagpur, reciprocated all over the country. One men’s team and one women’s team would be honoured by a chance to represent India in the Homeless World Cup, an international competition for the underprivileged.
Barse and his wife Rachana broke their retirement funds after reliving from their duties as sports teachers and invested it to build a facility for his NGO.
The Slum Soccer organisation now stands equipped with a football ground, a single-storey church for the community on weekends and an activity centre on weekdays, the headquarters of Slum Soccer, and his own house.
In 2007, Slum Soccer got featured by the BBC and the director of Homeless World Cup, Andy Hooks invited Barse to South Africa, where his initiative was recognised by Nelson Mandela.
With main offices in Nagpur, Chennai and Kolkata, Slum Soccer now works on various initiatives including gender awareness and awareness of menstrual hygiene in government schools.
Vijay Barse and his organisation have worked extensively on various social issues and played an important role in changing the fate of several pupils. A number of his students, now testify to how their teacher and his organisation played a pivotal role in their lives.
The organisation, in its quest to make the society a better place, has received various awards and accolades including the FIFA Diversity Award, FICCI India Sports Awards and Reliance Real Hero Award for their role in transforming young lives, promoting football in the country, and fostering unity, solidarity and equality among people.
Now, Barse's incredible story is all set to get immortalised as megastar Amitabh Bachchan will be portraying him in Nagraj Manjule’s ‘Jhund’.
With this exciting development, let's hope that the film puts Barse and his contribution on a global map.
Information Source: theindianexpress