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Chennai Kicks It Loud
Life Skills: A Key to Women’s Empowerment

Magic Bus made its way into Chennai with enthusiastic efforts of District Programme Manager,Jaraslo Vinod Raj(we call him Jerry), in April when children of the Tamilcapital enjoyed the first sessions organised with the help of the local Panchayat and Siru Malargal Home orphanage. A 100 days on, the Anjur School Grounds hosted a minifootball tournament in true spirit of sports.

45 children from Thenmelpakkam, Anjur and Kunnavakkam, villages located close to the BMW factory here, participated in their first-ever football tournament. They hadbeen training with their mentors for more than a fortnight, and looked extremely excited to be on the ground.

The Magic Bus Children Mini Soccer Tournament was organised with locally-raised resources and pooled-in finances. Men and women from all three villages came generously forward to mobilise funds required for basic logistics, equipment, refreshments and awards. The teams too, had put in rigorous thoughts and efforts, not just in terms of their game, but also for their look of the day, the ambience and other little, but important things.

In no time, August 20, the day of play knocked.The noise created for the tournament echoed in the presence of some really dignified guests on that Monday afternoon. We delightfully welcomed Kumar, SAI's SportsOfficer for Kanchipuram District and Usharani, Block Development Officer from the Government of Tamil Nadu. Ramanathan, Co-Founder of V-Shesh and Shyamla Ashok,Chennai Director of United Way marked their presence too, along with Elumalai, Jeyakumar and Masilamani, the Panchayat presidents of the three villages.

The four-hour tournament was weaved around a walk-over model. Kumar declared the tournament open with a first kick in the league match between Kunnavakkam andAnjur. Team Anjur put up a brilliant display of football and won by a margin of 3-0 goals, securing direct entry into the finals. Thenmelpakkam, too, made foray into the finalsimmediately after that.

The final match played towards the evening gathered much enthusiasm and interest from people of all three villages and the visitors. As speculation build up and the teams shifted to top gears to battle the race for the victor of the first-ever tournament they had been a part of, the ground became warmer. The first goal was secured by Thenmelpakkam within 10 minutes. Turbo-charging the soccer warriors, the battle soon turned interesting. Between short kicks and long ones, and quick passes and thought-over ones, the game moved forward. 90 minutes later, the scores narrated the whole game in three characters: 4-1. Thenmelpakkam lifted the cup as the winners of the only football-tournament that the three villages had witnessed in their life.

Sharaniya, a girl from the winning village shared her experience of being at the Magic Bus sessions. "The basic football training itself imparts so much of personal learning", she said. The girl wasimmenselyexcited about playing and eventually winning for her team.

The winning and running-up teams received certificates for participation and excellence.

A big round of applause and cheers for team Chennai. They are doing a great job establishing the Magic Bus programme in Tamil Nadu.