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From the Streets of Chennai to International playing fields

Born to an autorikshaw driver and a road side candle seller, Nandha Kumar spent his early childhood living at the edge of poverty; just a step shy of succumbing to child labor.While school wasn’t a top priority when his family needed help to just about get by, there was one activity that held Nandha’s interest and attention. After getting involved with SCSTEDS’ (a CRY partner) Children’s Collective meetings at the age of 7 Nandha, discovered football. As his love for the sport grew so did his involvement with the Collective and by the age of 9 he was playing competitively. In an under-10 tournament organized by the CFA (Chennai Football Association), he scored the maximum goals and paved the way for his teams win and for his life’s goal.

Nandha’s dedication towards the sport brought along with it a yearning to succeed in life and a will to match. Despite long hours of practice Nandha never neglected his studies and struck an impeccable balance between schoolwork and football. By the time he graduated high school. Nandha had already represented SCSTEDS and his school in numerous tournaments and was offered a full scholarship by Hindustan University to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a spot on their football team. Moving from strength to strength, today Nandha Kumar has represented the Indian team at the AFC Under-23 Championship in Doha & Singapore in July 2017 and Sep 2017 respectively.

“When people ask me, what success means to me, I do not believe that it’s measurable by the amount of money it involves but is only measurable through personal satisfaction and happiness. I’m thankful to CRY and SCSTEDS for showing me that hard work and determination is sure shot way to success” says the hero himself, Nandha.

While his circumstances growing up were not the easiest, Nandha Kumar managed to beat all odds because he found a strong support system in the team of SCSTEDS. Every intervention at the ground level by SCSTEDS is customized to its context. The model uses sports as a tool to build focus, motivation and the confidence – thus creating transformational change in the slums. Every child who now plays football at the SCSTEDS Vaysarpadi ground studies in school and has higher aspirations – from being a footballer, a coach, to a police officer to an IAS officer!

“Nanda has really made us proud. I have seen him grow and can guarantee that he truly is one of a kind.

His success will prove to be an inspiration to many families from the slums to fight for their dreams”

Uma Shankar, Project Head.


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