From the Streets of Karachi to a Football World Cup in Brazil

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Mohammad Salman is a sixteen year old who lives in Karachi, Pakistan and for a long time had resigned himself to the thought that his life could only be about an addiction to drugs and begging for survival. “In my past life I was like a street urchin, using drugs, running away from school and studies. I was an addict,” said Salman, who left home at age 13 after fighting with his parents. He says ‘past life’ because he was eventually spotted by a nonprofit called Azad Foundation. Azad Foundation is an organization committed to improve the well-being and self-esteem of alienated and excluded street children, through unconditional positive support. It was with the support of this organization that he was able to recognize his potential as a footballer.

The people responsible at Azad Foundation reached out to the organizers of the Street Children World Cup, joint venture by Amos Trust (who founded Street Child World Cup in 2010), Momentum Arts (which led the arts program in Durban 2010) and Action for Brazil’s Children (who will host the event in 2014). The joint venture is a registered UK charity that hopes to provide a platform for street children so that they can be heard and the negative stereotypes of street children can be challenged promoting the rights of street children. The purpose of getting in touch with the organizers was to provide Pakistan’s street children the opportunity to represent, and after extensive advocacy and lobbying with support from Pakistanis around the globe they were able to help their players secured a place in the Street Children World Cup 2014.

Coach Abdul Rasheed admitted the task of motivating children from such troubled backgrounds was sometimes challenging but said that “We have worked hard on these kids as others before going to Brazil and the aim is to fight for the trophy as well as for recognition.” “They helped develop my interest in football,” says Mohammad Salman. “I’m excited to be part of the Street Child World Cup.”

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