For Tejas R, football is not merely a sport, but an art, an art to make children smile, laugh and be a sportsman. Tejas has dedicated himself to football and coaching, but what makes this football freestyler unique? His absolute joy in being a Football Clown. Clowning and making a fool of himself, Tejas visits slums and hospitals to entertain kids with amazing football tricks. He is also the founder of Sparky Football, a non-profit initiative, which uses football as a life-skill module for social change.
Walking out on studies
With his parents pushing him to pursue engineering, the 25- year old’s aim was anything but a straight-laced job. He says, “In 2012, I walked out on my degree. I always had a strong inclination towards football coaching and love for kids.”
Scoring in the social media game
But with an incomplete degree and no formal training in Football, Tejas was not making progress in this path to build his career. Then, he found social media as his boon, thus turning this struggling man into an artist. “I would upload my freestyle performances on YouTube, and soon, I was approached to coach kids,” Tejas says.
What would your choice be?
But soon Tejas’s coaching style hit a glitch. “Coaching in an established set up didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t feel like I was making a difference. The organizations that I worked for looked at football as a recreational activity, while football has always meant something more for me.” So now, Tejas had a choice to make: earning money or making a difference in the society. Unsurprisingly, Tejas chose the right albeit difficult choice, to do the right thing by his principles. “I wanted to work with the underprivileged and provide them with equal opportunities by using football as a tool to train these kids, not just about the sport but about various other life skills.” That’s how Sparky Football happened.
Making wounds proud
Sparky Football began with a mission to build India’s No.1 under-19 football team with the Underprivileged kids. With a feat so ambitious, the organization’s motto – Make Your Wounds Proud – has a definite throb to it. “Football as a tool has created a difference in my students’ lives. It’s not only led them to become talented footballers, but gentlemen with impeccable character and strong sense of social responsibility.” He says that the students in turn train other students in football workshop. All the growth in their lives makes Tejas not just a happy man, but also a very proud coach.
Ingrained to make change
So, ingrained in him is the idea to make a change through the sport, Tejas made a solo trip, through busses and on foot across the Northern regions of India. He made a documentary; recording how the game impacts the lives across cultures. His video, ‘Football Journey from Bangalore to Himalayas’ was very well received by the viewers.
Part-time football clown; part-time coach; full-time football missionary: the life and tale of Tejas R.