Football helpedMr. ShyamRaghushe, a D/deafperson, to emerge victorious in the face of adversities and succeed in life. Now he aspires to change the lives of D/deaf children and youth through football!
Discrimination is a malaise which afflicts our society in myriad ways. While society maintains a façade of having overcome most discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, community, color, gender, status etc., the discrimination prevalent in society on the basis of physical and mental disabilities is too stark to be swept under the carpet.
“Unfortunately, I too have been a victim of discrimination many a times, both at school as well as in the community! I think people often discriminate because they fail to empathize with our disability” says Shyam Raghushe, a coach working with Slum Soccer on its DeafKidz Goal! Project.
DeafKidz Goal! project is an innovative initiative taken by Slum Soccer in partnership with DeafKidz international with the support of Comic Relief.
DeafKidz Goal! is an innovative initiative by Slum Soccer in partnership with DeafKidz international (www.deafkidzinternational.org) with the support of Comic Relief, aiming to provide D/deaf children with a safe space to play, learn and replicate the learning among their friends, parents, and communities. We (Slum Soccer) have designed unique games which not only focus on the full participation of D/deaf children in sports but also teach them the importance of education, safety, health and hygiene, safe spaces, protection of their rights, safeguarding, life skills and a lot more.
What is unique about DeafKidz Goal! is that D/deaf coaches, trained and enabled by Slum Soccer, deliver these life skills and football skills lessons to the D/deaf students and youngsters of Nagpur,using the beautiful game of football as an instrument, in their communication method of choice.The project has already clearly illustrated how lives are transformed when D/deaf adults are provided with opportunities to access training, and D/deaf children are able to access services, provided in their own language and taking into account cultural as well as linguistic components of training delivery.
Shyam uses Indian sign language to paint a bleak picture as he elaborates further. “There are many victims like me who face discrimination a lot more within their own communities be it children, youth, girls or women. We face barriers and challenges at every step and in all walks of life. Society expects us to accept our disability as insurmountable and stay at home rather than study, play and work for a living. The mistrust developed, and highlighted by society’s attitudes is so deep that even if opportunities for sports or jobs come our way, many are reluctant to grab them due to lack of clear communication or for fear of being harmed.”
So what made him join DeafKidz Goal!? Shyam gives an inspiring response, “To prove to D/deaf youth that they can successfully become an integral part of the community, I joined DeafKidz Goal!”says Shyam.
Shyam, 48 years old, belongs to a family with limited means. His father was a government servant but was addicted to alcohol. Later his father got paralyzed. Neither were his parents D/deaf and nor did they make efforts to learn his sign language which made it difficult for them to communicate effectively with Shyam. It led to an indescribable alienation between him and his parents. He didn’t study in a Deaf school and completed his 10th and 12th grades with hearing children overcoming many constraints and barriers. Discrimination in school and community lowered his confidence and the disconnect with his parents devastated him.
Consequently, he decided to discontinue his studies and started working in a local shop. However, he was ill-treated and discriminated against due to his deafness and made to work beyond his capabilities. He quit the job after a month and later worked as a computer operator for 4 years before he was fired from that job on a flimsy pretext. By the time he married at the age of 25, he was unemployed. The responsibility of having a family and his joblessness, in spite of his best efforts, resulted in acute mental stress and trauma.
Lady luck smiled on Shyam when he met SapanWaghmare one day and shared his woes. Sapan is anIndian sign language interpreter in the DeafKidz Goal!project. Sapan not only assisted him in getting a job at a laundry but also informed him of the DeafKidz Goal! Project. Everything else fell into place and some months laterShyam had acquired enough knowledge and skills at Slum Soccer to deliver football sessions for D/deaf children at the Deaf School Saoner (Taluka in Nagpur). DeafKidz Goal! Project Coordinator, Pankaj Mahajan, has high praise for Shyam, “Shyam had never played football before he came to us. Due to his tenacity, commitment and fitness, he has learned a lot in a very short time. What’s more, he also helps other D/deaf coaches to understand the concept of football.”
Shyam has a daughter who is 12 years old. Earlier, Shyam had been reluctant to drop her off at school, or attend school meetings, due to his inferiority complex and for fear of being teased and facing disapproval. Being a D/deaf coach with Slum Soccer has infused in him with hope, confidence and respectability. Today, he goes to school with his head held high as he finds himself on a par in work and status with his daughter’s teachers.He continues to coach D/deaf children with missionary zeal, teach them life skills to enable them to integrate into society and inspire them to lead an honorable life. He dreams of organizing a football league where D/deaf and hearing children play together.
“It is an honor and privilege for me to engage with D/deaf children, broaden their horizons and openupopportunities and avenues for them to lead a better life. D/deaf children’s faces light up with joy while participating in the thoughtfully designed games. It gives me immense satisfaction to be an agent of hope and change. I am confidentthat DeafKidzGoal! will have a huge positive impact on the lives of D/deaf children of Nagpur”Shyamsigns-off with a contented smile.
Shyam is a perfect example of how D/deaf people’s lives are already, even at this early stage of the project, being transformed through DeafKidz Goal!