In today’s world you cannot take success for granted. Today, success means going the extra mile. Success means going against the odds and doing it again and again. It is your dedication, your sheer determination that helps you #GoTheDistance.
At Apollo Tyres, we know what it takes to be successful. We know how hard it is to reach the summit, and harder still to stay there. But, over the years we have done that, and we appreciate the people who do it every day.
They are the archetypal professionals, who dared to dream and did all it took to Go the Distance, both physically and mentally. Here’s what makes them our hero.
When you are on a difficult path, it becomes all too easy to focus on the ‘bad’ things. But that’s where heroes shine, by keeping their focus on the destination instead of the bumps on the road.
True heroes do not go the distance for fame or power. They do it because it’s the right thing to do. For them, the journey is as important as the destination, and there are no shortcuts.
Win or lose, heroes are always remembered for their efforts, for taking the untrodden paths and pitching for those who are left behind. A hero makes every step count.
The story of a hero is not a solitary one. It’s a story of the lives they have touched, people they have healed and helped along the way. That’s what makes their stories great.
Just like you, we have our heroes too! Now, we showcase their incredible journeys. The stories of the underdogs, the stories of the youth, and above all, the stories of their tireless work both on and off the pitch that made them faster, stronger.
Pehchaan “The Street School” is an initiative to connect with the children in slums where social norms have broken down, education, values and parental supervision are seriously lacking. Pehchaan was formed in Mumbai in the year 2014 under the leadership of Mrs. Afsana. She started off by teaching children’s in a slum right across her residence in Mumbai.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUaQCfqwrZU
Over 7000 other rural children have benefitted from the Mann Deshi Champions programme. Founded by Prabhat Sinha in 2012, the initiative trains and creates opportunities for rural children in Maharashtra to play sports for free. They have 3 athletes competing at the international level, more than 20 at the national level and more than 100 at the state level.
Launched in 2011 with the motto ‘Everyone Plays’, Just For Kicks works in schools to help children garner multiple benefits of leadership development using football as a medium.
Through a flagship curriculum that combines life skills with football drills, students engage in year-round rigorous training, participate in national leagues and get scouted at games, gaining exposure to sport and competition simultaneously.
Personality Felicitated: Neha Sahu
OSCAR Foundation is a football for development non-profit dedicated to empowering children and youth in low-income communities in India. OSCAR uses football as a tool to deliver education and life skills sessions enabling children and youth to become role models in their community.
Former Indian hockey player, Bharat Chhikara, has been training young players from rural areas for free for over three years, and has set up a Trust Fund in his village to help strengthen the sporting culture there. The whole expense of the training is borne by him.
Astha's work empowers persons with disabilities to lead a life of their dreams by using sports as a tool for development and by improving education opportunities among Indians with disabilities. Astha's work also focuses on improving voting rights of Indians with disabilities.
Mr. Gill comes from a farming family from western UP. He got selected in UP Sports College and represented the state in many national championships. He runs multiple volleyball courts in his hometown from where he sends the players for selection in various age groups. He doesn’t charge any fee and has trained more than 25 National Players from Moradabad/ Amroha zone.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/prandeep.gill
Khel Khel Mein Foundation is registered as a charitable trust envisioning to transform the grassroots sports culture in India. It focuses primarily on ensuring a structured platform for children to play, and promoting holistic growth through sports. Started by Teach for India fellows, they dream of a self-sustainable sports culture and their vision is a larger cultural shift about sports and through sports. Their solution to the problem is transforming state of sports in a community, keeping the child at the center. KKMF has worked with over 10000 children across 80 schools.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=439Y1zoLxko
Lofty Dream Sports Development Trust is using a scientific approach to train over 1,000 tribal kids as professional athletes. The mission is to acknowledge, recognize and channelise the talent pool present amongst the Adivasi kids of Vikramgarh village in the Palgarh district of Maharashtra. The idea is to train them by utilizing the inherent qualities. Due to the undulating geographical terrain, the children have body structures perfectly suited for athletics. They are suited for sports like archery, shooting, javelin throw and long jumps to name a few.
Personality Felicitated: Adinath Naik and Jaygovind Yadav
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAcR5tFreik
TCO works to instill confidence in amputees so that they come out of their sedentary life style, restricted due to losing a limb/limbs, and explore their full potential by indulging them in various sports including marathons, mountain climbing, cycling etc. They currently have 2300+ amputees in their program across India. They started the Swachh Ability Run in 5 cities with over 13,000 participants including 96 schools and 643 disabled people.
Personality Felicitated: Major Devendra Pal Singh and Major Bimal Mehra
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_9F22mk5Kw
Sanju Pradhan is an Indian footballer who plays as a winger for RoundGlass Punjab FC. He's also played in the ISL for ATK, North-East United, FC Pune City, Mumbai City. He runs his own football academy in his hometown in Sikkim to provide opportunities to underprivileged children from his village of Sombaria and surrounding areas. Currently, over 50 children train at the academy, and Sanju enlisted AFC-C licensed coach Bhaskar Limboo, assisted by Jas Bahadur Subba, to run the technical side of the Academy. In the off-season, Sanju regularly coaches the players at the Academy. After he retires, his aim is to devote more time to the Academy, and make it a model for supporting talented players with limited means. The Academy has players selected for the Sikkim state team in various age categories.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr3FO43ENHw
Mars Football Foundation was founded by Moizuddin Mohammed, who hails from rural Telangana. He intends to promote football at the grassroots level by providing structured coaching to players from rural and underprivileged areas, to eventually produce international standard players.
Having trained close to 2,000 kids so far, in the U-8 to U-18 categories, Moizuddin has noticed that the kids played much better with correct coaching and infrastructure, and he aims to create a grassroots system and pathway similar to the UK and Germany for these kids.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Raizpo-sFHM
Eugeneson runs free football and basketball academies in his home village of Mawngap, a suburb in Shillong, which are open to any child who wants to come and play. His football academy has 75+ boys and girls who train, and are playing the Shillong Baby League. After noticing that there were more boys than girls in the academy, Lyngdoh found out that girls in the area prefer playing basketball, which led to him starting his basketball academy as well. Eugeneson wants to promote an active lifestyle among kids aged between 4 to 16 years, and wants them to experience the same thing sport has given them by creating access to sporting facilities he did not have growing up. He feels that sport is the best way to express yourself, and sponsors their participation in tournaments throughout the year to inculcate a healthy spirit of competition among the kids.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz4HSD_Eu2g
Tanaz works towards uplifting girls to pursue football for a better living. She engages with the mothers of the girls to get the girls to attend her free football camps and now has between 500-800 attendees on an average. She also organizes Community Coaches Cascades in Mumbai and Gujarat and has trained over 60 coaches. Tanaz is currently a member of the Grassroots Development team in Mumbai City FC, a coach at the Reliance Foundation Young Champs, and a level 1 coach educator with Premier Skills.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3dZi3PsHdQ
Choma Eagles is supported by Rukmani Trust NGO. Eagles mentor and promote around 35 female students and work on their overall development. The long term plan of the trust is to encourage more girls to play Soccer to be physically fit and ensure their all round development. To make this possible the trust envisages building of a Sports facility with hostel to take care of all the needs of these children. To replicate this model to include more such girls in more towns across the country. Choma Eagles Charitable Trust is committed to educate local communities & meet the challenging educational needs in the Covid-19 impacted times by bridging the resource- technology divide. This funding & support will go a long way in providing right resources for the children in our community. The trust is working in sync with the Govt police of promoting the girl child through ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’. Choma Eagles have taken this initiative a step further by adding ‘Beti Khilao’ into it as they ensure that the underprivileged girls get physically fit by playing football.
Personality Felicitated: Lt Col Pradeep Kumar Chowdhri(Retd)
Nagma is an AIFF D-licensed coach and has completed both phases of the Premier Skills programme held by the Premier League and British Council. Nagma goes to villages and trains football coaches for free, while emphasizing on inclusivity. She is also a certified coach educator with Premier Skills.
Players For Humanity has possibly been the ‘first of its kind’ non-profit organization in India, comprising of 41 greats of Indian football, who are trying to be a shoulder of support for the helpless people of our society.
Sachin Chaudhary comes from a farmer family in Punjab-Himachal area, where he played International Handball representing India. He went on to become the captain of Indian Team, his wife is also Handball player, now the duo is working with rural girls handball players and running an academy in Himachal. Recently their Academy team was allowed to participate in National Women Handball Championship.
Personality Felicitated: Sachin Chaudhary and Snehalata Chaudhary
Social Media: N/A
NGO training more than 200 street children in football and hockey. They have convinced the children's parents to send them to school, and are focusing on promoting discipline, teamwork, health and hygiene among the kids.
Personality Felicitated: Shrungar Raul and Parvez Shaikh
V.P. Suhair plays as a striker for NorthEast United FC. He, along with his brother, coaches kids in a local ground for free in his hometown of Palakkad in Kerala. He is constantly involved in the development and improvement of the kids and encourages them with the right values and training to help them towards becoming professional footballers. He has a focus group of kids aged between 8-19 years old and has been working with them for the past four to five years.
Karunalaya Social Service Society is a secular, non-profit voluntary organisation working for the protection and development of street and working children in Chennai City since 1995. It was started as a grassroots organisation for the care, protection and rehabilitation of runaway, destitute street children, children working in the fishing industry, street youth and empowerment of women in the fishing community, street and pavement dwelling communities and promoting sport among them.
Team India South comprising children from Karunalaya and Magic Bus participated in the Street Child Cricket World Cup in 2019 and won the trophy! They beat 10 teams from 9 countries including England, Tanzania, and Pakistan that participated in the tournament. Children from Karunalaya, both boys and girls, have also won multiple accolades in athletics events across the country.
Personality Felicitated: Dr. Paul Sunder Singh, Founder Secretary
Slum Soccer was founded in 2001 by Vijay Barse, a retired sports teacher in Nagpur. Vijay’s primary influence in starting the initiative was when he coached a few children in the nearby slums to play football. He observed that these children would gather every weekend just for the love of football. He coached about a dozen kids in the neighboring playground and was able to see how these kids came together to learn a new sport. He could see that the children liked having a purpose and were only too happy to find someone who could guide them. This was when he realized that football could be the means to transform the children living in the slum, and he started Slum Soccer.
Slum Soccer, an NGO based in the state of Maharashtra, aims to combat homelessness and improve the lives of millions of people. Football is used as the common thread that connects individuals to help promote learning and empowerment within communities. The power of football teaches useful life skills such as teamwork, self-discipline, acceptance, and other ways to enhance social development.
Slum Soccer’s multiple programs serve to enrich young people in these underprivileged areas. With over 20,000 beneficiaries, Slum Soccer’s programs include training coaches and young leaders in their communities to push for equal opportunities. Slum Soccer also provides health camps lead by general physicians for participants to learn about hygiene and nutrition.
Personality Felicitated: Mr. Vijay Barse, Founder and Dr. Abhijeet Barse, CEO
Aditi Chauhan is an Indian women's professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for India Rush and the Indian national team. She has previously played for English club West Ham United Ladies. She was a part of the India women's team that won the 2012 SAFF Women's Championship in Sri Lanka.
Aditi is the founder of She Kicks Football Academy, a Delhi-based female-centric football coaching academy. The academy aims to provide a platform where women footballers are provided world class guidance and mentorship while providing a holistic football curriculum in a safe environment. The main goals of the academy are:
Personality Felicitated: Aditi Chauhan, Founder
Mr. Jude Felix is the founder of Jude Felix Hockey Academy, an Arjuna Awardee, an Olympian, a Former Captain of the Indian National Hockey team, and the former Coach of the Indian team that won Gold at the 2014 Asian Games. He is currently coaching the Junior Indian Team.
The Jude Felix Hockey Academy (JFHA), Charitable Trust is a non-profit organization started in January 2009 by Olympians, Former International and National players to cultivate the game of hockey amongst the underprivileged children of India and to develop new talent for the game. JFHA is a unique sport-based NGO formed with the help of former hockey players, well-wishers and socially sensitive people, passionate to make a social impact at grassroots by creating sporting opportunities for children from vulnerable backgrounds. Delivering a professional approach towards the game of hockey, solely by managing volunteer’s time has been the highlight of the academy. The primary values the Academy stands for are Integrity, dignity, fair play and zero tolerance for discrimination. The Academy’s objectives are:
Personality Felicitated: Jude Felix, Founder
Jayesh Dilip Rane (born 20 February 1993) is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a winger for ATK in the Indian Super League. He has won the Indian Super League in 2015 with Chennaiyin FC
In 2014, Rane was drafted by Chennaiyin FC for the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League and in the 2017 Indian Super League, he joined Atletico de Kolkata.
Jayesh Rane came into limelight due to his performances in the wing position and his ability to dribble past defenders. He earned praises from various managers across the league and he became a prime member of the Aizawl FC during the 2017 I league. Aizawl FC won the league that season.
Jayesh and his family undertake a lot of social work, and he credits his mother for inculcating values of giving in him. They have personally made several donations to people affected by the floods in the North East, and in Kerala. In 2017, Rane and Ashutosh Mehta (another ISL player) started a crowdfunding campaign to help the victims of the Mizoram floods. Ashutosh and Jayesh reached out to their colleagues, fans and various social media platforms to gather more support. Associated with Caritas India, an NGO whose main focus of work is disaster relief, the campaign looked to expand by raising funds for others causes affecting the northeast. Calling attention to how every penny can help save lives, the money raised was used to buy food supplies, water to drink, blankets and other essentials to help resuscitate the rescued.
PASS Collective is a self-sustained social enterprise startup designing meaningful goals through play with communities, through two interconnected verticals:
In their Design Studio vertical, they collaborate with value-aligned partners who are in need of design research, visual communication and service design. Their partners are working on initiatives mainly in the Development, Education and Sport sectors. The profit from the Studio partnerships internally funds their grassroots skills development vertical, Shining Stars Football Club.
Shining Stars Football Club (SSFC) is a not-for-profit community skills development program building with girls and boys from marginalised urban communities in Bangalore. On the pitch, SSFC focuses on football excellence through which the children and youth actively practice teamwork, gender equality and professionalism. Off the pitch, the children lead on creatively improving their communities, one step at a time, through teamwork and participatory design methods. Children from more than 40 different schools are represented in the “Recycle for Football” project. This project started in April 2017, from April till now they have recycled over 86,000 plastic bottles. The money collected from the recycling project is used to fund football equipment, goal posts, etc.
Hi5 Youth Foundation runs a free, multi-year, multi-level basketball coaching program for disadvantaged children called “Hope thru Hoops” – providing tribal/disadvantaged communities an alternate pathway to succeeding in life. Currently, Hi5 coaches over 2100 children, half of them being girls, at 20 centres (10 BMC schools, 2 Zilla Parishad Schools, 2 centres for slum children, 1 tribal Jr. college and 5 residential tribal /orphanage school) - making it one of the largest year-round grassroots basketball (sports education) development programs run by a single NGO. Their vision is to provide disadvantaged children with 'life-changing' opportunities through sports (basketball), and pursue a trickle down development from the court to their classrooms, thereby ensuring cohorts of 'first-gen' college goers leading a quantum jump in economic terms of their families and communities.
All Hi5's tribal children in 2018 as well as in 2019 from Palghar district, Maharashtra, have gone on to join a college, who otherwise would have dropped-out or been engaged in manual labour. Hi5 was founded by R. Sundar (IIMA '79) who has earlier successfully co-founded Mastek (IT Multinational) and Sankara Eye Foundation, both also registered in the USA, along with Usha Sundar and colleague P Ramaswamy, and 25 other team members with extensive experience in the development as well as commercial sector.
Hi5 is operational in 3 states – Maharashtra (15 centers), Telangana (4 centers) and West Bengal (1 center).
Personality Felicitated: Mrs Usha Sundar and Mr R. Sundar, Founders
Pritam Kotal is a professional Indian footballer who was born in Uttarpara, West Bengal. He plays as a right-back (defender) for the ISL club ATK and the Indian men’s national team. Pritam Kotal began his club career with Pailan Arrows in 2011. After the team was disbanded, Pritam moved to Mohun Bagan during the 2013-14 season and helped them to win the 2015 I-league title with his performances. Pritam was also among the 84 Indians that were part of the inaugural Indian Super League season in 2014 and was drafted by FC Pune City on loan.
There, he played with former Inter Milan defender Bruno Cirillo which helped him to improve his game. He moved to Atletico de Kolkata in 2016.
Kotal made his international debut for India on 12 March 2015 in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Nepal.
Pritam Kotal has started an academy this summer in the city of Uttarpara in West Bengal. He is financing the entire project and has taken several underprivileged kids under his wing. His academy train kids at the U-8,10,12,16 levels. The focus of these training sessions is on overall development of football skills of students with adequate emphasis on all-round personality development through football, fitness and nutrition lessons.
Jeje Lalpekhlua is an Indian professional footballer who plays for the ISL club Chennaiyin FC and also plays for the Indian national football team.
He is the second highest Indian goalscorer in the Indian Super League since its inception. In 2015, he won the I-league with Mohun Bagan and the Indian Super League with Chennaiyin, and was subsequently named the FPAI Football Player of the Year.
The Chennaiyin FC captain conducts a grassroot programme for 150 kids in Hnahthial in Reiek, Mizoram. There are about 10 coaches and the programme has been running every summer for the last three years or so. The programme is funded by Jeje and he also provides them boots and kits.
The Technical Director and Head of Youth Development for FC Goa, Derrick Pereira has always been a man of the community. He has played a crucial role in helping the grassroots initiatives of Forca Goa Foundation. The former national league-winning coach spends time with the coaches of the foundation - education about various aspects of coaching, He also helps these coaches become better scouts to unearth talent throughout the state of Goa. With the GFA, he has worked to coach the coaches for the improvement of football in the Marmugao zone. This initiative helps in giving direction and to enhance the knowledge of existing grassroots coaches as well as PE teachers from schools. All of Derrick’s work apart from being the Technical Director of FC Goa is pro bono. FC Goa has Forca Goa Foundation which is a non-profit organization which undertakes coaching the coaches and scouts to unearth talent along with coaching the GFA coaches and PE teachers in schools.
Social Media: https://www.instagram.com/pereiraderrick1962/
Dr. Achyuta Samanta is the founder of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT); Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), which provides free accommodation, food, healthcare, and education from class 1 to post-graduation with vocational training; KIIT International School (KIS), an International Baccalaureate affiliated school, and Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), a medical college.
Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences – KISS, Bhubaneswar, India is a fully free, fully residential home for over 50,000 poorest of the poor indigenous children who are provided holistic education from Kindergarten to Post Graduation along with lodging, boarding, health care facilities besides vocational, life skills empowerment.
Ranjit Naik, a student of KISS, was selected to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He has also won a silver medal in the 2nd Asian Grand Prix held in 2014 in Taipei, China.
Students of KISS have won the Rugby World Cup 3 times: U-14 Boys Rugby World Cup in 2007 in London, U-13 Boys International Rugby Tournament in 2011 in Manchester, U-13 Girls International Rugby Championship in 2014 in London. They also won Bronze at the Asia Rugby U-20 Women's Championship held in Vientiane, Laos.
Bhagyalakshmi Bharik, an indigenous girl from KISS, participated in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China as part of the Indian Rugby contingent.
Personality Felicitated: Dr. Achyuta Samanta, Founder
Darren Caldeira is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a Central Midfielder for Kerala Blasters in the ISL. Darren Caldeira was part of the youth set-up at Mahindra United before going to Spain to train with La Liga side Valencia for a year. In 2010, he signed for Hero I-League side, Air India and played one season for them, later signing for Mumbai FC. Two years later, Bengaluru FC signed Caldeira and he spent two seasons there, after which he headed back to Mumbai FC in 2015. He was part of the Chennai City FC squad for the 2016-17 I-League season and a member of the ATK squad in the Hero ISL 2017-18 term. Caldeira last played for Mohun Bagan before making the move to the Kerala Blasters.
Souvik Chakrabarti is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a defender for Mumbai City in the Indian Super League. Souvik started playing football from an early age, with his senior professional debut coming with Mohun Bagan in the Hero I-League. The defender first played in the Hero ISL for Delhi Dynamos FC in the 2014 season and went on to help the Lions reach the top four in the 2015 and 2016 campaigns. In the 2017-18 season, Chakrabarti plied his trade for debutants Jamshedpur FC, before turning out for Mumbai City in 2018-19.
Souvik, along with his brother Turja Chakrabarti, runs an NGO called Pratit International in their hometown of Baranagar. The NGO is actively involved in providing medical assistance to the underprivileged, primarily from the slum areas on the outskirts of Kolkata.
The NGO provides medical equipment, consultation and services at zero cost to the local residents. While the football calendar doesn’t allow Souvik to be hands-on with the operations of the NGO, the defender pays a visit to the centre every time he can and lends a helping hand.
Anas Edathodika is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a centre back for ISL ATK and the Indian national football team.
Hailing from Malappuram in Kerala, Anas proved his worth in the backline of the Delhi Dynamos in Hero ISL 2015, having made the most clearances (163) by any player in that season. In the subsequent season, he once again led the backline where Delhi Dynamos finished as the semi-finalists. The 2017-18 and 2018-19 season, Anas played for Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters FC respectively but injuries limited his game time to just 15 matches combined over the two seasons.
Anas sponsors 100 kids in his home village of Malappuram. He looks after their education, sports coaching, and meals.
Social Media: https://www.instagram.com/anasedathodika15/
Mehrajuddin Wadoo is a former Indian football player and is the current assistant coach of the Hyderabad FC. During his playing days, Wadoo played for clubs such as Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Salgaocar, Pune City, Chennaiyin, and Mumbai City. He also represented the India national team from 2005 to 2011.
Mehrajuddin heads the Football Players Welfare Association (FPWA) which has started a U-16 academy in Srinagar. Through a series of trials, the academy selects 30 players to train for four years post which they are set up at recognised clubs. The training and kits are completely taken care of by the academy. Mehrajuddin is also a consultant with the State FA and assists with the functioning of the State-owned academies. He recently started the Wadoo Football School of Excellence in Vashi where he coaches U-13, U-15, U-18 players for free, and has now tied up with La Nucia, a LaLiga Segunda Division B club. He has previously coached the U-18 team of FC Pune City.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/mehrajuddinwadooofficialpage/
The Jungle Crows first kicked a rugby ball in Kolkata in 2004 as a bit of fun to play the game and teach it amongst a small group of friends - founding players included Paul Walsh and Shaun Kenworthy who both still live and work in Kolkata. The Jungle Crows is now a charitable trust registered in West Bengal operating a wide range of education and social welfare projects, all with a rugby ball around several communities all over Kolkata and Saraswatipur and in parts of Bangalore and Dumka.
Khelo Rugby is the Crow’s main social welfare programme which uses the power of sport (rugby) to support children in disadvantaged communities. operating in 30+ locations in the city which includes direct work in slum communities, with NGO partners and in schools. Coaches deliver a high quality rugby based sports experience to children every week. Each month they also deliver a programme developed by their coaches on a social theme; these include health and hygiene, gender equality, rugby values, etc.
To support the players the Crows began a micro scholarship scheme which allowed the players to apply for a small monthly stipend in return for coaching work. They now have 100+ youngsters who receive a scholarship which enables them to stay in school and avoid dropping out. Their U-18 boys are the national champions and the U-18 girls are ranked two in India. Players have gone onto play for West Bengal and India. Their senior men’s and women’s teams are current Calcutta Cup champions and both ranked in the top 4 in India. In the 2018/19 winter holidays they had camps in six different locations involving more than 2000 children over a cumulative 28 mornings. They have also been selected to represent Asia as a ‘Spirit of Rugby’ partner of the governing body of rugby ‘World Rugby’ where they have delivered rugby into new territories such as Nepal.
Personality Felicitated: Paul Walsh, Co-Founder