5 August 2016

The field of football for good entered a new chapter during the 2016 UEFA European Championships, with streetfootballworld and Sport dans la Ville teaming up to host a landmark celebration of the game's positive potential: Festival 16.


Festival 16 brought together 500 young participants from all over the globe, selected not only for their skills on the pitch but also their commitment to using the game as a force for good. The festival may have drawn to a close in July, but we will continue sharing some of the remarkable stories it unearthed throughout August and September. Here's Tejas RK on life, football and freestlye in the slums of Bangalore:




Tejas’ story is one of passion, generosity and relentless determination. In just a few years he has founded his own NGO, which he works tirelessly to fund, and now also started developing India’s best U-19 team of underprivileged children.


Only four years ago, Tejas was an engineering student at university in India. Also a talented football player, he dreamed of one day making it as a pro. However, following the guidance of his parents he decided to peruse an education over anything else.


Towards his second year of study, India hosted European heavyweights FC Bayern Munich in a friendly match, with the German side cruising to an easy 4-0 victory against the Indian National Team. Ashamed that his nation’s best players couldn’t put up a fight against a club side, Tejas decided to drop out of university and dedicate himself to developing grassroots football in India.


When his efforts to contact local sports clubs and coaches received no reply, he chose to go it alone. He planned his time, saved his money and spent his free time perfecting his football freestyle skills. Before long, he was India’s freestyle champion, and began setting up workshops for underprivileged children in the slums of Bangalore.


“My biggest motivation is putting a smile on these children’s faces,” Tejas explains, cracking a boyish smile himself. To support his projects, he began a crowdfunding campaign that provided football equipment, food and even bicycles for the children.


Following the success of his initial ventures, Tejas spent some time working to complete his UNICEF certification to become a professional football coach. He then founded SPARKY Football with the aim of coaching underprivileged children and providing them with greater opportunities in life.


Tejas now dreams of developing India’s best U-19 team. He coaches young football players not only on the pitch, but also on other important factors surrounding the game – including psychology, which he is studying to help improve his coaching abilities.


“I have seen some of the most violent children in the community develop into the most humble. Even young children suffering from HIV, I have seen these children grow from shy and introverted people into strong and vocal leaders.”


Tejas’ goal is for ‘every child to have a ball’, as this opens a new world of possibilities. He has already seen children he worked with go on to football-related career paths, taking them out of the slums and providing them with a brighter future. Those who don’t make it as football players have the option of going into coaching, reporting, or even following Tejas’ path and empowering others through the game.


“I know I am a role-model and I want to be the best example I can be”, he says. With his unwavering determination to help others, there’s no doubt he’ll change many more lives with little more than a football.

"I have seen some of the most violent children in the community develop into the most humble."

Tejas RK
Sparky Football Founder & Festival 16 Volunteer
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