Photo Credits: The Goan
The Karuna football foundation which started the Compassion Residential Girls football Academy last year had two sets of guests who were impressed with the performance of the girls at the academy over the last year and wanted to extend a hand of support to them.
One team consisting of Dr Sameer Nagda, an Indian based in the US and who due to his expertise in Sports Medicine has a gold medal to his credit as part of the US women's team that won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019.
As a shoulder specialist at the Anderson Clinic and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine in the United States of America, he has been part of both the men's and women's teams of the US. He was accompanied by his daughter who is the CEO of 'Replay It' a sports charity organisation based in the US.
The other guests were Goan football stalwart Franky Baretto, former Indian national team captain along with Leonard Fernandes, CEO of the Pioneer Sports Academy from Dubai who is also promoter of football who ploughs his business profits by investing into the beautiful game of football.
The Dubai-based academy with Franky as its director has been supporting several Indian women football clubs in the past years and also have great plans for the near future for Goan girls to be part of their own academy in the Emirates.
Dr Sameer has also been with the team to the 2021 and 2016 Summer Olympics. He has also been a physician in the Washington Nationals organization for 7 years and has a very close relationship with the top women players who are among the legends of the Game since he works with them on the physical health issues in regards to injuries and its rehabilitation.
Dr Sameer has been evaluating and surgically treating problems of the knee, shoulder, and elbow of most soccer players. He has his expertise in arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, shoulder instability surgery, Tommy John surgery, and shoulder replacements and so has been most sought after physician among the sporting fraternity in the US.
Saira, his daughter, while sharing her thoughts on 'Replay It' said as a student of public policy and women empowerment, she felt that millions of children around the world do not have access to adequate equipment to play sports. She was confident being a football player and a track athlete herself, playing sports allows for children to lead healthy and active lives, gain confidence, teamwork skills, and character.
She was of the opinion that many sports have become a "pay-to-play" situation and as a result, many children are deprived of this opportunity. She was convinced that her organisation is working towards a close relationship with the Compassion Football Academy for the near future. She expressed hope that the partnership will give the girls a chance to play the game through the equipment and sports gear she brought for the marginalised and underprivileged girls, in changing lives and bringing community transformation to perform towards excellence.
As the FIFA Women's Under-17 World Cup is only a few weeks away and with Goa as one of the venues, the visit of the two teams of soccer professionals to Compassion girls football academy is significant as the very purpose of starting the academy was to form a legacy towards the mega event to promote and develop the game at the culmination of the world championship.
The visiting teams who understood the needs of the girls from the Compassion FA brought along with them training equipment as well as playing kits for the girls which will help them to have access to quality international brands which would have otherwise been only a dream for many of them.
Recently, the Compassion FA won the La Liga-sponsored Inspire Cup, an all-India inter-academy football tournament for under-16 girls in Andhra Pradesh due to which many promoters of the game have been attracted towards the girls' performance.
The Compassion team is also waiting to once again welcome the technical advisor Heidi Scheunemann from Germany who will be in Goa in a weeks' time to work with the coaching staff which is excited with the new faces that have joined the academy in recent times.
Kennedy D’Silva said he is extremely grateful to all those who have started showing interest in the academy which was formed to promote the sport in rural Goa and especially among the girls who come from homes with difficulties. There are local partnerships also expected from different government agencies and corporates in the days to come as football is expected to take a big leap after the global women's event in the country is over at the end of October.