Chennai: Sports has always been a symbol of hope for millions around the globe as it unites humanity irrespective of race, caste or religion.
Meet, Johnson– a football coach from Choolaimedu who offers a better life for underprivileged children through the beautiful game.
Hailing from Thoothukudi, Johnson narrates how he got into the sport. “My father was a player himself and he used to manage the local football club in our hometown,” says Johnson. “Naturally, as I saw him train from a young age I started to fell in love with football.”
As Johnson pursued his education, he continued playing football. During his post graduation, he joined a sports club which gave him more opportunities to take part in many football leagues.
Soon, Johnson moved to Chennai which was when he came across the troubles faced by underprivileged children.
“I saw many teenagers getting into bad habits like smoking and drinking,” he says. “I didn’t want them to get involved by such ills. So I got an idea to make them play football.” He adds that he felt if those children were given a chance to play, they would do better in life.
Soon he started coaching the underprivileged children through his venture, Premier Soccer Academy in Anna Nagar with six other coaches.
Several children who are training under this academy have seen their life change day by day. He also trains unemployed youth. Several children who come here are from Mugappair, Ashok Nagar, Ambattur and the neighbourhoods surrounding Anna Nagar to name a few.
“Some play for tournaments while there are those who have even found jobs and are doing well,” smiles Johnson.
He adds,”Once I told my friends that I was starting a football academy for the underprivileged, they contributed by making football Jerseys and are helping in every possible way.”
Today, Johnson and his team train around 60 students of age group five to 17 years. What makes Johnson to do such an initiative?
“For me, money comes secondary,” he says. “It is never my motivation.” He then adds that as he grew up he had to face odds to become a better football player.
“I don’t want talented players suffer whatever I faced. I want to give them an atmosphere where they can do better. I feel that at least one of my students will help others as he grows up.”