TBI Blogs: Meet the Son of Daily Wage Labourers Who Is on His Way to Playing Football for India

Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) ensures holistic development of youth of Anantapur, especially those from underprivileged and marginalized backgrounds, by providing them with quality and sustainable access to sports coaching, infrastructure and equipment, while maintaining focus on education, nutrition and career development.

Dileep started learning football only two years ago. Till date, he has already participated in three national level competitions. He hopes to one day play for the country.

Humble beginnings always have a story to tell. Sometimes they may be stories of misery, sadness, exploitation and negativity. But sometimes, they may also be stories about the joy of fulfillment through hard work and those of victory against the odds. The latter are the kind of stories that we hear from the Rural Development Trust’s (RDT) Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA). Its Football Academy has been bursting with pride over the tales of accomplishment of two of its young students, both of whom have been selected for the AIFF Under-14 Camp, believed by many to be the stepping stone to playing for the country.

One of these students is D. Dileep, a quiet and reclusive youngster. Dileep lives in the remote area of Kalavapalli in Kodiginahalli. The nearest sign of civilisation is an hour away from his village in Parigi South of Anantapur District.

Dileep is the younger of two children; his elder sister is currently pursuing her degree. Dileep’s parents are uneducated, daily wage labourers who depend heavily on agriculture to make ends meet.

At home at the Anantapur Sports Village

Dileep at the Anantapur Sports Village

Necessity has drilled into Dileep and his family the virtue of hard work. The family spends two hours a day travelling to and from Parigi; Dileep and sister for their studies, their parents for their work.

In 2014, Dileep was spotted by Arun Kumar, a football coach. Kumar saw a spark in Dileep and invited him to play. The youngster readily agreed and played the first game of his life at the age of 12.

Within no time at all, Dileep was hooked on the game and Kumar, seeing the boy’s potential, began to train him. Football training, however, meant that Dileep would have to practice after his two-hour commute and his long day at school. Undaunted, Dileep jumped at the opportunity to learn the game. His parents’ encouragement helped keep him motivated.

Dileep was quick to pick up the game, and was soon breaking through defenses like a seasoned footballer. Later that year, Dileep played his first ever competitive football game in the inaugural season of the Anantapur Football League 2014-2015.

It was here that he was discovered by the ASA Football Academy coaches. On seeing his exceptional performance on the field, the coaches realised that Dileep could go far, if given the proper training.

They invited Dileep to participate in the F.C. Sant Vicenti Football Summer Camp in May 2015, to help further hone his skills.

With RDT Executive director, Anne Ferrer upon the announcement of his selection for camp

Dileep with RDT Executive Director, Anne Ferrer

After the summer camp, Dileep came back with a renewed vigour and attended the ASA U15 Football Academy selection trials. And sure enough, he was selected to live, train and play football full-time at the Anantapur Sports Village (ASV).

In June 2015, Dileep began his new life at ASV. While he practised and trained with unwavering dedication, he also worked hard to complete his education. With his education as well as accommodation and boarding being taken care of, Dileep’s family had one less thing to worry about. They continued to give him unconditional support and encouragement.

Dileep’s diligence and hard work saw him play in three national level competitions just two years after he first got into football! The competitions include the U17 National Invitational Tournament in Chandigarh, U14 School Games Federation of India Nationals in Chhattisgarh and the U14 All India Football Federation (AIFF) Nationals in Chennai.

During his time at the ASA, Dileep, along with his teammates, also got the wonderful opportunity to participate in the selection trials for the recently launched Second Division I-League Club, Fateh Hyderabad AFC (FHCH). Dileep’s team maintained an exceptional unbeaten record throughout the league, an achievement made possible thanks to his thrilling performance.

His stunning performance all through the three national competitions as well as the professional I-League season did not go unnoticed. Dileep was selected to participate in the AIFF U14 camp held in Bhopal. Selection in the camp is believed by many to be indicative of the player’s ability to play for India.

On his way to training at the AIFF U14 India probable’s selection camp in Bhopal

Dileep on his way to training at the AIFF U14 Camp

“Dileep has learnt football at an exceptionally fast pace. He has also shown tremendous potential in the past two years. Travelling two hours everyday, from his village to Parigi for his schooling and for football training, is evidence of his commitment and his love for the game. Despite coming from a humble background, he never focused on the negatives in life, and instead, looked for the positive in everything. Dileep has grown a lot since he started playing football; today, he has great dreams and ambitions…. he wishes to represent his country one day!” says a proud P. Vijayabhaskar, the ASA Football Academy Assistant Head Coach.

His story is in many ways a testament to the work and vision of RDT and their aim to develop the lives of the less fortunate in and around rural Anatapur.

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