India’s first deaf football coaches receive “E” licences

The programme aims to train a cohort of deaf aspirants to become certified E license coaches who will deliver life skills modules to marginalised deaf children through the platform of football


Mumbai/Nagpur : A special camp was recently held in Navi Mumbai under the aegis of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to train deaf aspirants to become certified E licence coaches. This training programme was launched by Slum Soccer, an NGO promoting football among the poor communities across India, in association with the Reliance Foundation.

Twenty participants from Nagpur took part in the certification course led by Shailesh Karkera, Senior Manager, Grassroots – AIFF Technical Dept. & AFC Grassroots Technical Panel Member, at Navi Mumbai. The course covered fundamentals like passing, dribbling, controlling, etc. with the support of Comic Relief and the Reliance Foundation. Other important aspects of coaching were also covered during training at the Reliance Foundation Young Champs Academy, including: session planning, tournament organization, first aid, and the AIFF’s Do’s and Don’ts.

There are approximately 63 million deaf and hard-of-hearing people in India, but they are severely underserved in terms of accessible sports facilities, resources, interpreters, etc. Because of the lack of regulation in this field, coaches are largely unrecognised and forced to accept low-paying, thankless jobs just to make ends meet. All parties involved in this innovative project hope that it will help coaches in this field acquire the modern-day competencies that will allow them to educate deaf and hard-of-hearing kids.

In addition to receiving football training from Slum Soccer, the youth will also teach other youth in their community valuable life lessons using football and other sports as a medium, such as Indian Sign Language. (ISL). The planners have also teamed up with local Nagpur non-profits and educational institutions to provide kids with sign language football coaching. In the coming months, Slum Soccer hopes to roll out this programme in other major cities like Mumbai and Chennai.

“We have been organising regular football tournaments where participants play alongside their hearing counterparts in order to promote diversity and inclusion at the community level. It gave the deaf players more confidence and helped them feel more at home in the mainstream. At the same time, the talented players became more aware and friendly with their opponents. This project is demonstrating the positive impact that the programme has on the lives of adults with hearing loss who are given access to it and are taught to become coaches. Abhijit Barse, CEO of Slum Soccer, expressed gratitude to the organisations that had contributed to the organisation’s success. These organisations included the Reliance Foundation, DeafKidz International, the Asian International Football Federation (AIFF), and Comic Relief.

“This is the first time that we are conducting an official AIFF Coaching Course for differently abled candidates and a lot of work has gone into preparing for it. The goal is to make our coaching programs more inclusive, accessible and empowering for future participants so that they have the tools to engage effectively with children in their respective communities and sporting entities,” said, Savio Medeira, Director of Coach Education, AIFF.

The programme will also coach children on the importance of education, safety, health and hygiene, safe spaces, protection of their rights, safeguarding, basic life skills, etc. This training will be the first of its kind to meet deaf children’s needs, effectively capturing their attention through best-spoken deaf-focused teaching and learning methods, which can then be replicated in other geographical locations throughout India in the future. The training would bring together the community and build sustainability to take forward the mission to make football deaf-friendly (and deaf persons football friendly).

About Slum Soccer:

Slum Soccer was registered as a Non-Governmental Public Charitable Trust Organisation governed by the Public Trust Act of the state of Maharashtra in 2001. The unbridled joy on the faces of a few street children kicking a broken bucket around a slushy ground in an impromptu game of football, blissfully unaware of the pelting rain during a sudden rainstorm, prompted the founding of our organisation, SlumSoccer. Over the last two decades, Team Slum Soccer has relentlessly worked to make sports accessible to everyone irrespective of race, religion, caste, colour, and socio-economic background. Taking our flag of changing lives through football forward, our endeavour is also to football equally accessible to specially-abled persons. The glorious game of football is considered as great levellers, and unifier and lends itself to be learned and played easily.