“I’ve learned a lot since the time I came to Delhi. Be it football, my studies, or picking new skills. Football has made me independent yet very responsible”– Manbhakupar Malngiang, Forward, Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools.
Meet Manbha. A 13-year-old student-athlete from Shillong, Meghalaya. He joined Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS) in 2019 through a scholarship program.
Since then, Manbha has played district tournaments, national-level competitions and proved his mettle at U-13 I-League, the nationwide age-group competition for registered clubs under the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Manbha resides in Vedas International School, a BBFS Residential Academy. Apart from his talent, which is the foremost reason for him being here, the other important reason behind Manbha’s selection is BookASmile, where the initiative supports his training in sports and academic development at BBFS.
Booking a smile
The betterment of Indian sports depends on how Indian corporations invest their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds. Before the pandemic, in FY19, the amount spent for CSR in sports stood at INR 295 crores.
That is nearly 1.5% of the total INR 24,689 crores of CSR money spent by 22,531 private and public corporations during the year.
Could the amount for sports have been better? Of course, Indian sports deserves much more if we are to call ourselves a sporting nation.
Nonetheless, in recent times, the Indian startup ecosystem has shown vibrant support for special sportspersons.
Amongst them, BookASmile, the charity initiative of India’s leading online ticketing platform BookMyShow is a prominent player. BookASmile supports special causes to ensure beneficiaries from underserved backgrounds are privy to opportunities, activities and experiences from across genres like Sport, Cinema, Music, Theatre and Art,
“Our initiative was launched with a vision to give back to society, by providing opportunities that we take for granted to those who hail from disadvantaged sections. BookASmile has always strived to make available, varied sport offerings for the less privileged in a bid to promote overall personality development and offer everyone an equal opportunity,” said Farzana Cama Balpande, Head of BookASmile.
And indeed, they have consistently been of help to the ones in need!
Manbha’s father left him and his mother at a tender age. Since then, his mother has been the sole breadwinner for the family. She works as a cleaner and life has never been steady for the two. But football seems to turn the tide.
“I remember the day when I was selected back in 2019. My mother was called by Vivek sir and informed that I was selected. She was so happy. She came to drop me to Delhi and was amazed to see the facilities,” reiterated Manbha.
The youngster was selected during the third phase of trials in Shillong. BBFS has its base set up across India, and its scouting network operates throughout the country.
In Meghalaya, Mr. Hendrickson, the scout, had trained Manbha since age 9. He was practicing and playing for Kickstart FC, a team run by Mr. Hendrickson in Shillong.
During the 2018 selection campaign at Polo Ground, Manbha, who was ten at the time, had first appeared for trials. He was rejected since he still needed some polishing. Finally, the following year his turn came, and he flew to Delhi.
“I’m very content and am working hard to improve myself. Here the training, education, food and other facilities are great. One of the best moments for me was to score against Punjab FC during the U-13 I-League in 2019. My focus is to score more goals and improve my quality,” said Manbha.
Realizing the dream
Manbha undergoes personalized training like every student-athlete at BBFS Residential Academy. The curriculum, which focuses on developing holistically, has bore fruits. His performance levels have improved steadily, and now the coaches aim to prepare him for the next challenge.
“I believe within the next two years, he will be ready to compete with the best in the country. His game-reading knowledge, speed, dribbling abilities set him apart from the rest. Our focus for the next two years is to prepare him for the national-level tournaments, specially the U-15 I-League. If he does well, we can push him for the bigger stage,” said his coach Mr. Aditya Sharma, an AFC-B license holder.
Whenever Manbha finds time, he feeds his curiosity by reading books and spending time with his friends. He is exposed to a very new environment and is enjoying his time in Delhi. However, his targets for the coming times are firm, and he is dedicated to reaching the pinnacle.
“I thank BookASmile from the bottom of my heart for supporting my football learning alongside my education. It is because of them that I have realized my dream and am associated with BBFS to play at this level. I will prove my quality, represent India, and make all of them very proud of me,” concluded Manbha, with a cheerful grin that was hardly let off throughout the conversation.
Currently, BookASmile supports several student-athletes alongside Manbhakupar, who study and play at BBFS Residential Academies.
Read more about BBFS Residential Academy
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