NEW DELHI: Across the world, Assam is renowned for its tea gardens as well as its passion for football. In state's Golaghat district, the two come together to form a perfect blend through the Golden Baby Leagues to take Indian football forward together — giving hope of a "brighter future" — to the families living in the tea estates.
"A large portion of our players come from the surrounding tea gardens. They possess so much talent. But the mindset of most parents isn't much in tune with modern times. The lives of most of the kids begin and end in the tea gardens itself," Chinmay Bora, the league operator for the NRL Football Academy Golden Baby League in Numaligarh, told www.the-aiff.com.
"However, through football and the Golden Baby Leagues, they gain exposure of life outside the gardens and gives the families hope that the sport can change their lives and give them a brighter future," he added.
The Golden Baby Leagues project was started by All India Football Federation (AIFF) in 2018 with the aim of nurturing a new generation of boys and girls who start playing football at a very young age.
In its first season, the Golden Baby League in Numaligarh saw over 400 children take part across three age-groups — U-8, U-10 and U-12 but interestingly, it was the response of the parents that stood out.
Operating through a network of feeder centres across the Golaghat district, the organisers conducted interactions with parents and showed them how Golden Baby Leagues are being organised and the positive impact they are having on young kids, using examples from the neighbouring states of Meghalaya and Mizoram.
As a result, the interest levels among parents started to grow gradually and has now blossomed into a "wholesome environment" according to Bora, who shared a heart-warming anecdote to illustrate the same.
The organisers have plans to extend the duration of the Golden Baby League in Numaligarh to three months in the 2020-21 season, once normalcy returns.
It also includes increasing the number of grounds and conducting matches in a home-and-away format among the feeder centres to popularise the game in specific pockets. IANS