The long ball. It is the oldest tactic in the football playbook and one that Indian football has long been adapted to playing. H Noor Basha, however, has other plans.
“You boys are young. So long ball is fine now. But as you grow up, you will need to refine your passing technique… play more short passes. We’ll be learning how to push past in the coming days,” he tells an attentive group, aged between five and 15.
We meet in the playground of a private school in Valasaravakkam on Sunday, where Basha — a physical education teacher employed with a private school in Adyar — is attempting to train children in the way of possession football (a playing strategy used by teams). It is what the young football coach does during his time away from work — train more children.
Having spent his childhood growing up in Vyasarpadi, Basha, 29, understands the impact that sport, especially football, can have on children from economically disadvantaged sections of society.
Vyasarpadi had an image… one of the drugs, murder, and rampant alcoholism. Today, the place is synonymous with sport… like carrom and football,” he says.
Which is why Basha has been a key cog in identifying at-risk children with sporting talent from underprivileged sections, and training them in football.
He helps to get the competitive ones selected to tournaments held by Slum Soccer (a non-profit organization working to improve livelihoods of street dwelling children through football), which partners with the Homeless World Cup Foundation. If selected to the global tournament, recognition — and a shot at a better future — awaits these youngsters.
This was the case for 22-year-old R Aravind, who represented Chennai and Tamil Nadu at the Homeless World Cup held earlier this year in Cardiff, the UK. “He is a natural talent. He grasped my tips well and showed extraordinary output,” says Basha. After his World Cup exploits, Basha says Aravind won a full scholarship to study an MBA program at a college in Vyasarpadi. “His parents were over the moon. They struggled to get him through an undergraduate degree but football has helped him sustain his dream of studying further. Read More