A new football pitch promoting gender equality in sport has been built next to a school in Punjab as part of the legacy of the 2022 World Cup. The scheme in Jamsher Khas village near Jalandhar is a part of a Generation Amazing programme launched by Qatar, which is hosting the tournament, to get 20,000 boys and girls to lead healthier lives.
It is the 27th pitch to be launched by the Gulf state, following similar projects in Lebanon, Syria, Nepal, Pakistan and Jordan.
Baljinder Kaur, 22, is a local Generation Amazing ambassador who runs programmes for 95 children at the school in Jamsher.
She said: “This pitch will give a chance to more young people – and especially girls – to play football.”
“I believe I was selected as a Generation Youth ambassador to motivate and support young girls in my community. In the future, I want to continue helping children, while ensuring girls have equal opportunities,” Baljinder added.
The new pitch has been developed in collaboration with local partner YFC Rurka Kalan, a community organisation that uses sports to mobilise large communities, including 6,800 people so far this year.
Generation Amazing is currently present in five locations in India, as well as seven other countries across the Middle East and Asia.
One of these is in Bangalore where an empty plot of derelict land which people would use to dump rubbish on was turned into a makeshift pitch for 150 children to kick a ball about on.
Three Generation Amazing pilot schemes have also been launched in Kerala, including a project to train soccer coaches and one to introduce soccer to 20 disabled children.
Sadique Rahman, 37, from Kozhikode, started working as volunteer for Generation Amazing after going to Qatar in 2006 to work for an oil and gas company.
Earlier this year, while on a visit home with his cousin, Najih Karangahan, another GA volunteer, they got involved with rescue work during the Kerala floods.
“We went round in boats to help people. The flood came so suddenly, when they were sleeping. They didn’t have time to take anything with them, just escaped with themselves,” said Rahman.’
Afraa Al Noaimi, Acting Executive Director of Generation Amazing, said of the Jamsher programme: “We are proud to inaugurate our first Generation Amazing football pitch in India, and to continue making a positive impact on the lives of young people in Jamsher and the surrounding areas.”
She added: “Our football for development programme has made significant strides since it was launched in India earlier this year across a number of locations and cities, and this pitch opening will provide a tangible social and human legacy to this area for future generations.
“We encourage all the young girls and boys in the area to join our programme and make the most of the opportunities to learn life skills and important sporting values through football.”
Generation Amazing claims to have benefitted more than 250,000 people since its launch in 2009, and aims to benefit a million people by the time the World Cup kicks off in Doha in four years’ time.
(The writer is an independent contributor to The Statesman)