“The children are cooped up alone with their parents. Things were okay while the wine shops were closed. Once those reopened, the children saw their parents fighting a lot. This caused them a lot of stress and anguish, and so they called me every day asking when classes would start again,” he said.
In the beginning of September, SC-STEDS, a non-profit that helps children through football, reopened and Thangaraj, the co-founder, was able to return to teaching his students. With six classes daily, Thangaraj ensures that the children take the appropriate safety precautions before and during practice.
“They need some outlet for their energy, especially when they’re young. At home, they are unable to play with their friends or study in peace. Through football, we want the kids to find their focus and push them towards education. So these classes are a great way for the children to find release during the shutdown,” said Thangaraj, who takes the classes for free.
Ever since he was five years old, Thangaraj has played football with his friends in fields across the city. At the time, football was a sport played at schools or for fun, and there was no professional outlet for the sport in the city. Through the sport, Thangaraj hopes to get children educational and professional opportunities that will help them in the long-term.
“My colleague Umapathy also takes classes for the children on English and Tamil, especially for the younger children who need the extra support at this time. Football is a way for them to find self-expression, especially during the shutdown. It makes me happy to give the kids a moment of solace during the shutdown,” said Thangaraj.