Meet the young achiever fostering friendship and promoting equality through sports

Meet the young achiever fostering friendship and promoting equality through sports

Ananya Kamboj, all of 16, is BRICS goodwill ambassador, journalist at Football for Friendship, author & gender equality advocate.

“No matter how old you are now. You are never too young or too old for success or going after what you want.”

Ananya Kamboj, the sixteen-year-old student from Mohali, is a wonderful example of how our young people have the power and the drive to change the world for the better. Her journey so far is a source of pride and inspiration, containing the promise that every single person, regardless of their age, background, race, or gender can make a difference in the world.

Ananya, a self-professed Lionel Messi fan, was selected for mission XI million, an initiative by FIFA, All India Football Federation, and supported by the Government of India as a young journalist at the Global Football for Friendship (F4F) social program at St. Petersburg, Russia in 2017. She wrote the winning article about how football fosters friendships and global relationships. Since then, there is no looking back for her.

Encouraged by her father, Ananya wrote about the experience of making friends from different cultures and the nine values she learned at the F4F social program -  friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honor.

In 2018, she turned into an author and wrote her first book “My Journey from Mohali to St. Petersburg’, a collection of 21 stories from her experiences in Russia, which was launched at the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup. In the same year, she was chosen as the goodwill ambassador of BRICS countries.

Next year, she was invited by International Children’s Games (ICG), an International Olympic Committee-sanctioned event to speak on peace, friendship, and youth empowerment during the opening ceremony in Ufa, Russia.

Not only this, she was invited by the United Nations twice to share her view on football for friendship. She has also participated and represented the country in several other projects like Girl Up, Girls with Impact, Lean In India, SDGs For Children, SDG Choupal, and She’s Mercedes.

In 2020, she was selected into the WLF Ambassador program 2020 by the World Literacy Foundation (WLF). To add another feather to her cap, Ananya has started her own programme called ‘Sports to Lead’ to promote gender equality and help girls realize their potential through the medium of sports.

Talking about her initiative, Ananya says “It creates leadership skills for life in order to help children/youth become more confident, skilled and more enjoyable based on the nine values I learned at the F4F programme. I focus on using sports as a medium to encourage learning and breed leadership and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among the youth in urban and rural India.”

Launching an ambitious social programme at merely 16 years of age is no mean feat. Ananya credits her family for supporting her and making it possible but her own hard work is no less- “I borrowed 50,000 INR from my parents to print fliers, and I either cold-called school principals or took part-time teaching assignments to develop relationships. I hired a coach, believes in our mission and is good with children. Children love our leadership program, so we've grown through strong word of mouth, too.”

The programme has achieved many milestones in a short period of time since it has been launched. Recounting the accomplishments, Ananya says - “In 2019-20, we reached about 1,900 children at 6 schools through our leadership program and sports camps over 11 weeks. So far this year, we’ve taught 8,015 children and awarded more than 100,000 INR in scholarships. The program costs 1000 INR to 5,000 INR per semester, and the camps cost 500 INR per week of half days or 1000 INR for full days. We offer need-based scholarships for 25% to 95% of the cost. We reinvest our profit into programs in low-income areas, into the development of our website and other related material.”

Ananya has been a sportsperson since childhood, playing basketball and football. That’s where she first noticed the innate discrimination faced by girls as the phrases ‘playing like a girl’, often used by coaches, made her realize the challenges and bias faced by females in sports. This motivated Ananya to take a pledge to make the world a better, fairer, safer place for women and she decided to work for the empowerment of girls.

CLIQTAX congratulates Ananya on her praiseworthy efforts for promoting solidarity, peace, women empowerment, and the spirit of sports.

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