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Dharavi Girl's Football Project Gets Her Ticket To The Olympics

Game On: Explore 5 Playful Pedagogical Approaches

15-year-old Gulafsha won a global online campaign organised by Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) earlier this year, which secured her a chance to be at the 2012 Olympic Games. Her project on helping girls come out in the open to play and rub shoulders with the boys was ranked #1 during the campaign. Very soon, she's flying to London - an article by journalist Mugdha Variyar in Hindustan Times, Mumbai Edition.

July 8, 2012, Sunday: Gulafsha Ansari, 17, got her first peek at London in a Bollywood film. In August, the Dharavi slum resident will not only visit the UK capital but also witness the Olympic Games. Ansari, a national level football player, will join three young American girl footballers to experience the sporting frenzy at the Olympic Games.

Ansari was selected with over 6,000 votes in an online contest conducted by Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) in the United States, for her initiative to help girls in her Muslim-majority locality to play football. "I had never thought I would be part of something as big as the Olympic Games," said a shy Ansari on Saturday, as she prepared for her practice session at a ground in Reay Road. "Apart from the footballers, I am more excited to meet athletes from the Indian team in London," she said.

Magic Bus, a not-for-profit that works with underprivileged children, had sent a team of 12 Mumbai girls for JFSLA's annual summer camp in San Francisco last June. During the training, the team was encouraged to take up social programmes in their neighbourhoods. The girls took up the initiative on their return focusing on targeting issues such as smoking and child marriage. Ansari, who has been training in football under the 'Sports for Development' programme of the Magic Bus since she was 11, decided to help other girls in her locality play football.

She began with organising practice sessions at a ground near the slum on Sundays. "When I first called the girls in my neighbourhood for practice, only 10 showed up," said Ansari, a first year commerce students at HR College. "My mother supported me by speaking to other parents, and currently about 25 girls come for practice regularly," she said.