From the warzone of Lalgarh,West Bengal,to the home of the legendary Bayern Munich is a long way. Eighteen-year-old Dasharath Singh embarked on this journey of a lifetime from Kolkata today.
Dasharath will spend a week with one of the worlds great football clubs in their home city of Munich in Germany. When he returns after 10 days,another village boy,Purnananda Roy,will make the same journey. Two young lives from a community traumatised by the repercussions of Maoist violence will likely change forever.
Exactly a month ago,on July 19,the boys had their tryst with destiny. As part of their peoples welfare and outreach programme,the West Bengal Police organised a football match in which local footballers from humble backgrounds were invited to play. Dasharath played as goalkeeper,and was selected second best player after Purnananda.
As prize,the Bengal Police sponsored their trip to Germany. Bayern Munich,who had expressed willingness to train underprivileged youngsters when state Commerce and Industry Minister Nirupam Sen visited Munich in 2008,happily agreed to host the boys for a football workshop,said a government official.
Manoj Verma,SP,West Midnapore,said,Dasharath is a very bright boy. We are helping him to build confidence in himself so that he can shine in future. And we can assure that he will never be used by the police,and he will always be kept out of the operations against the Maoists.
Minister Sen said the plan to send talented young footballers to Bayern was conceived during his trip to Munich two years ago,and strengthened during the visit of a team from the club to Kolkata in May 2008. The great Oliver Kahn made his last appearance for Bayern in front of an estimated 120,000 fans at the Salt Lake Stadium in that match,in which Bayern beat Mohun Bagan 3-0.
It is such good news that someone from the troubled areas of Lalgarh has made it to Bayern Munich. Its really good news, said Sen. Bayern is also willing to provide training facilities at a football academy to be set up in Burdwan. But it has got delayed for lack of sponsors, he added.
Dasharath,who grew up in Tarlilata village close to the Maoist stronghold of Jhitka forest,is a Class 12 student of Ramakrishna High School in Lalgarh town,some six kilometres away. Worried about the impact the violence between the Maoists and security forces might have on their son,his farmer father,Nirmal Singh,stretched the familys meagre resources to send him to stay at the school hostel.