Football has the power to change lives - read our players' stories

His journey started with a small step when he kicked a ball for the first time in his life a year ago at one of Slum Soccer’s bi-weekly training sessions.

Pankaj Mahajan

Soft spoken, shy and reticent Pankaj has had a tough life. Born into extreme poverty, an abusive alcoholic father only exacerbated his woes. Despite belonging to a family that had a roof over its head, it was never home and Pankaj often found himself on the streets after being on the receiving end of a beating administered by his drunken father.

All of this changed when Pankaj discovered football. From someone who had always been a victim, he blossomed into a leader at the center. This did not go unnoticed and he was immediately identified by the Slum Soccer team as someone who was destined for big things. After the National Championships, he was put through the organization’s Youth Leadership program. He received his call up to the Indian National Homeless World Cup squad and continued to go from strength to strength.

After a brilliant campaign at the Homeless World Cup (India finished at an all time high of 29), Pankaj returned to a hero’s welcome. He had won his team over with his inspirational behavior on and off the pitch. He was welcomed by his local politician and members of his community who were waiting for him with garlands, music and fireworks. He is now a local superstar!

Though Pankaj is enjoying his success, one can notice a steely determination in him off late. He says ‘I am eager to start working in the field and cannot wait to help change other lives’

In the coming days, ‘Captain’ as he is now known will visit all of Slum Soccer’s centers and share his story with others in real need of inspiration. And we’re confident they will get it from him.


Pankaj Mahajan

His journey started with a small step when he kicked a ball for the first time in his life a year ago at one of Slum Soccer’s bi-weekly training sess

read more

Disha Lohabare

Daughter of a scrap vendor, and a homemaker, Disha has lived in poverty all her life with never enough food to eat or clothes to wear

read more

Sheetal Sahu

Sheetal (22 year) is an inspiration for many girls in her community in Dipti Signal, Nagpur. Things weren’t same, as she had a tough childhood.

read more

Reena Panchal

Reena tells the story of what many a girls are facing in her community. She comes from the state of Haryana where girls playing football is frowned upo

read more

Tayyaba Ansari

Born in a staunchly patriarchal, misogynistic, and conservative community where the role of women is restricted to reproduction and household work, Tay

read more

Shiba Markas

Opportunity knocked when Slum Soccer kicked off its  DeafKidz Goal! Project. Given her empathy for the differently abled, Shiba grabbed it with both h

read more

Mohd Saad

One look at Saad was enough for coach Ahsan to know that if Saad is not guided in the right direction he would be soon indulging in anti-social activit

read more

Vikas Meshram

One day, when I was 15 years old, I was loitering aimlessly in a stupor when fortune smiled upon me. I saw a group of children along with their coach p

read more