2nd Annual Inter-School Tribal Children’s Football Tournament
The Nilgiris-Wynaad Tribal Welfare Society (NWTWS) has been committed to the health, wellbeing and welfare of this region’s Adivasi (Tribal) peoples for more than thirty years. The outpatient/inpatient hospital and dispensary they operate, and the various mobile outreach health systems projects and health awareness campaigns they regularly conduct are essential aspects of what NWTWS offers. The Society’s many Children’s Programmes constitute another essential dimension of social service provided to the Katta Nayaka, Paniya, Betta Kurumba and Mulla Kurumba families and communities. The Annual Inter-School Tribal Children’s Football Tournament – sponsored by Nilgiris Adivasi Trust – is one of these programmes.
Prior to kick off:
Mr. Ronald, NWTWS’s Project Manager says that “encouragement of Tribal children in sports at their schools is poor.” Many Adivasi schools do not have a Physical Training (PT) teacher on staff – though government funds are available to employ them – because many are unwilling or unable to live and work in or near remote communities. As a result, physical education and sporting development are all too often not part of the curriculum. He believes that “children get motivated and inspired in their schools by extra-curricular activities, not just by academics,” and that organized play and sports at school encourages regular attendance and participation. However, certain structural barriers to Adivasi student participation in physical education and sports persist; for example, permission and support from government officials for schools to develop their own programmes is necessary but at times hard to come by in a timely fashion. Regardless, as Mr. Ronald sees it, “play and sports with rules and regulations are compulsory in a child’s education, life and overall development.”
It is for this simple reason that NWTWS took the initiative and got the ball rolling last year with the Adivasi student’s football tournament, which brings public attention to Adivasi children and shows the public that “these are kids who can do well in sports.” He goes on to say that “an objective of the football tournament is recognition for the children.” To him this is an important aim because the contention is that government and private schools for non-Tribals have a tendency to overlook or to ignore Tribal students and their communities; he wonders “how they will respect Tribal children in later life if they don’t respect them now?” Another intended outcome is “increased self-esteem among the tribal children,” because even more important than gaining the respect of others is to gain self-respect. The hope in all of this is that tournament participants “can become role models in the future” for their peers.
Competition with other schools and rivalries between communities are not what’s important at the Annual Inter-School Tribal Children’s Football Tournament, instead the priorities are a healthy present and a prosperous future for Adivasi Children.
The following is a day by day synopsis of this year’s very successful and entertaining football tournament:
Mr. Chandran, NWTWS Child Care Coordinator (left) & Mr. Ronald, NWTWS Project Manager (right):
Thrsday, March 15, 2012
NWTWS’s Second Annual Inter-School Tribal (Adivasi) Children’s Football Tournament kicked off today at Vellery pitch – near Ambalamoola. Eight teams of Adivasi boys aged ten to fourteen representing local schools, most of whom without team uniforms and all of them barefoot, assembled for day one of this three day competition. First Round action saw Ambalavayal Middle School vs. Ponnani GTRS, Erumad Middle School vs. Chollady GTRS, Kappala GTRS vs. Kakkundi Middle School, and Ayyankolly GTRS vs. Pattavayal Middle School. Ambalavayal, Erumad, Kappala, and Ayyankolly advanced to the next round.
Ayyankolly GTRS vs. Pattavayal Middle School:
Mr. Chandran – NWTWS’s Child Care Coordinator organized the event, and liaised with participating school teachers and principals to get permission for students to participate. Indeed, without the vision, hard work, and persistence of Mr. Chandran this year’s tournament would not have happened. He was assisted during the final stages of planning and preparation by Dinakaran – a visiting MSW practicum student, especially in the transporting of students to and from the field of play. Mr. Balan – an NWTWS farm worker and maintenance person, along with a couple of others, helped to prepare the grounds and erect the announcer’s stage.
Friday, March 16, 2012
On this hot and sunny Semi-Final Friday, it was Kappala 5 – Ambalavayal 2, and Erumad 7 – Ayyankolly 0. Again today NWTWS staff, school representatives, match referees, community members and spectators enjoyed high energy football action and were treated along with some of their favourite budding footballers to a Sambar lunch sponsored by NWTWS. The many litres of homemade lemonade to refresh, and packets of glucose powder to energize were reserved mostly for the hardworking players.
Kappala vs. Ambalavayal:
NWTWS Project Manager Mr. Ronald’s father, Mr. Goudie and uncle, Mr. Reuben – official tournament photographer, who both had travelled all the way from Chennai carrying trophies, medals and award certificates, continued their participation today officiating, coaching and encouraging. Personalized award certificates of participation individually signed by Mr. Chandran and Mr. Ronald were given to each and every member of the eight Adivasi teams that came out for day one and two of the tournament. No student went home empty handed, or with an empty stomach.
Personalized Award Certificate of Participation:
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Before Kappala and Erumad – each team cheered on and supported by senior members of their respective schools – met to decide the championship, NWTWS staff members and friends took the field for a friendly match, in which there were a few highlights, but many more lowlights… Mr. Jose Thomas – Farm and Field Work Programme Coordinator was unanimously selected as both Best Goalie and Man of the Match. Later, in the official awards ceremony, for his outstanding ball control and goal scoring proficiency Erumad’s Aneesh was awarded the Man of the Match trophy. The trophy for the tournament’s Best Goalie went to Shiju, who stood on his head for Kappala in the First Round and Semi-Finals. Rajesh from Kappala took home the Man of the Series trophy thanks to his brilliant all around play and sportsmanship.
Man of the Match, Aneesh:
This year’s Inter-School Tribal Children’s Football Tournament featured children and schools that represented three of the four area Tribes: Katta Nayakaas, Paniya and Mulla Kurumbas. Paniya community leader Mr. Karuppan Sir was there to see Kappala awarded the Runner’s-Up trophy and Silver Medals. Mulla Kurumba community leader Mr. Ramuwnni Sir was there to see Erumad awarded the Winner’s trophy and Gold Medals.
Mr. Ramuwnni presenting Championship Trophy to Erumad Team Captain Sajith:
Runners-Up Kappala – including Best Goalie, Shiju & Man of the Series, Rajesh – with (back row, left to right) Mr. Chandran, Mr. Goudie, Mr. Sujesh, Mr. Karuppan, Mr. Ramuwnni & Mr. Ronald:
At the awards ceremony gifts were presented with thanks from NWTWS staff to supportive school officials, indispensable community partners and amazing volunteer contributors without whom this three day event would not have been such a success. Special thanks went out to NWTWS intern and social work student volunteer from Canada, Mr. Jason, who performed several duties including those of linesman for six of the seven matches and of referee for the other. Extra-special thanks went out to referee Mr. Sujesh, who took time away from his private business to officiate both Semi-Final matches and the Final. He brought a touch of class and professionalism to the play.
Mr. Jason calling the shots:
Mr. Sujesh, all business:
The Adivasi children who participated as players and spectators, their parents, families, friends and classmates who followed and supported the action, the principals and teachers who gave permission for their students to participate, the community members and volunteers who made many contributions, the NWTWS staff members and volunteer student interns who offered a helping hand, and, of course, the organizers who made this year’s Inter-School Tribal Children’s Football Tournament happen, all deserve acknowledgement and appreciation. The hope remains that NWTWS events like this make a difference in the lives of everyone involved, and, in particular with this event, that when the players bring their award certificates of participation, medals and trophies back to their schools and home communities there is a positive impact on all those who see and celebrate them.
Pride and Joy:
Ambalavayal High School:
Erumad High School:
Kakkundi Middle School:
Pattavayal Middle School:
BONUS PIC — Overzealous Linesman with Makeshift Referee Flag: