Slum Soccer had its latest brush with footballing celebrity when our kids and staff got the once in a life time opportunity to interact with the legendary Trinidadian Dwight Yorke. An illustrious career that has spanned nearly two decades has seen Yorke play for a number of club sides including Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham and Sunderland. However he reached his greatest heights playing for Manchester United with whom he won the treble in his first year at the club. He was instrumental to their success that season picking up the distinguished individual accolade of the Premier League’s Golden Boot.
These days Dwight is an FA licensed assistant coach of United’s reserve squad and Slum Soccer was fortunate to have him use all that experience and football acumen in conducting a coaching session for the kids from our Chennai center. These are kids from families that survived the tsunami that battered the Indian coast amongst other nations in 2004 and have been living in squalid transitional tenements since.
Dwight was his usual humble and down to earth self and wasted no time in busying himself arranging cones and markers on the field and putting the kids through a basic skills session. Quite naturally, his style and coaching methodology was world class and the kids had an amazing time learning from the pro. His affable nature and rapport with the kids was obvious as he uncomplainingly signed their shirts after the session concluded and posed for a number of photographs with them and the Slum Soccer staff.
He later said ‘It is an extremely humbling experience to be here with the kids who have been through so much in life. I believe in the power of sport to change lives and I’m certain football is going to have a huge positive impact in theirs’
The entire session was organized by our wonderful partners at the British Deputy High Commission in Chennai. Ever since the two organizations came together in March along with the Abhinav Bindra Foundation to co-host the GREAT British Sports Festival – Slum Soccer Championships in Chennai, they have been a constant source of support and frequent visitors to our projects. British Deputy High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis in particular has often gone out of his way to assist our endeavors with this session conducted on the lawns of his residence being the latest expression of his encouragement.
All in all, a fantastic evening and an occasion to remember for life!