Football is known for bringing people together around the world, irrespective of national boundaries and financial background, and now the beautiful game has brought a group of people in Mumbai's Colaba together, to help a girl realise her dream of playing in a major tournament in Glasgow, Scotland.
Christina Francis, 19, lives with her family in the slums spread out near Cuffe Parade in Mumbai. She stopped going to school after class 9, after a doctor at Nair hospital informed her father that she suffered from dyslexia and advised that she should be allowed to focus on her passion.
Dyslexia is a disorder related to reading, in which a person has problems with reading, but it is not related to overall intelligence in any way, hence allowing people to focus on activities that don't require reading. It was portrayed in the 2007 movie 'Taare Zameen Par', and several personalities from legendary boxer Muhammad Ali to actors Jim Carrey and Robin Williams and even successful businessmen like Richard Branson have dyslexia.
Since early childhood, Christina has been pursuing her passion of playing football and has represented a local NGO, her father Robert Francis told ScoopWhoop. He said that although she never played for her school team but used to passionately play football with local children and rarely left the area. This was when she was spotted by the NGO and her talent in the game has now brought her to a point where only the sky is the limit.
The NGO called Leher Foundation encourages slum children to participate in sports, and Christina has represented the NGO in Soccer Fiesta 2014, ONGC Football Championship and Indira Gandhi Memorial Slum Soccer Women's Football tournament, Mumbai Mirror reported.
The NGO also has a tie up with an organisation called Slum Soccer, which selects players for the Homeless World Cup, meant to change lives of homeless people globally. When they shortlisted Christina for the 16th Homeless World Cup in Glasgow, her family was elated, but there was just one issue.
While the organisers agreed to sponsor Rs 1.2 lakh for Christina, she was short of Rs 60,000, if she wanted to go to Glasgow. Following this her father Robery Francis approached Father Michael Goveas of the Holy Name Cathedral, and the rector promised all the help he needed, Robert told ScoopWhoop.
Father Michael made an appeal during the Saturday evening service and in less than three days, he was able to collect the required amount and has given a cheque of Rs 60000 to Robert. While one person gave Rs 25000, others contributed between one to five thousand, and that's how society helped Christina move one step ahead towards her dream.
"I have asked her to study further and clear exams. I told her she can appear for multiple attempts and clear examinations at her own pace." Robert Francis told ScoopWhoop.
Robert also told ScoopWhoop that the family wants Christina to go ahead with her passion since she's good at it, and will always stand behind her. He also said, "I am thankful to the parish and everyone who helped us, they have done a lot for us, and we will always remember their help."
Meanwhile Christina told Mumbai Mirror that she hoped to make Football a profession and said, "I don't want to quit playing. It is what I know to do the best. But I want to study and get a government job so that I can take care of my family."
Christina also plays rugby and hopes to reach the Homeless World Cup where 64 teams from 51 countries will come together. Her passport is already being processed, as she is in Nagpur for a trial camp.
Feature image source: Reuters