On a usual day, the humble 20-year-old youngster, Kasireddy Anand Reddy, when not attending to his footballing duties as a player/coach, is predominantly working on the administration of the Anantapur Football League, a grassroots football league in India. K Anand, hailing from Kadapa district, was once seen as a withdrawn individual among his peers, but has made use of the benefits sports offers and has gradually grown to be a role model for his peers and other youngsters.
His first interaction with football came when he was nine years old, as he saw his neighbour practising with a senior team at the ground near his house. Anand instantly took an interest in the game. That interest made him steal a ball to practise at home. However, his neighbour noticed the same and besides making Anand understand that ‘one shouldn’t steal things’, he encouraged Anand to play, by giving him a football to practice with, on the same ground.
As a child, Anand found solace in playing football. He, alongside his elder sister and younger brother, faced several adverse situations during their childhood. Their father, who worked as a daily wager, fell prey to alcohol abuse and eventually passed away, leaving their mother’s meagre daily wage earnings to support the siblings, alongside household needs. Despite coming from this weak financial background, Anand’s mother never held back from encouraging her son from practising football. His mother’s support is quite evident. In 2012, despite Anand being rejected in the preliminary trials in his hometown for a summer coaching camp to be held in Anantapur, due to his weak physique, she stood alongside Anand’s interest to let him travel all the way to Anantapur on their own expenses.
Little did he or his mother know that their grit would help Anand not only to participate in the ten-day summer coaching camp organised jointly by the Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) and a Spanish Football Club, CF Santvicentí, it would also help him to become the first player to be selected into the maiden football residential program. The ASA was started in 2000 by Rural Development Trust (RDT), an NGO, to promote a sporting culture in the rural regions as well as to support the children from rural regions of Anantapur and nearby districts through sports.
ASA’s intervention helped Anand to enrol in their partner college for pursuing higher education, but also provided him daily nutrition, accommodation, health care and regular training in football. This support made him pursue a BA in Math, Economics and Statistics, along with flourishing on the playfield, where he regularly featured in the state football championships, south zone inter-university football championships and ultimately getting selected for the Andhra Pradesh State Probables Football Team for the prestigious Santosh Trophy 2016-17, only to be withdrawn due to a late injury.
During the 2015-16 season, supposed to be Anand’s last year in the residential program, Miquel Llado, Technical Director of ASA Football Program, upon observing Anand’s keenness for mentoring and his unconditional enthusiasm for the development of the game, offered him a volunteering opportunity as an assistant coach of the u-13 ASA Football Team for the upcoming season. Along with handling these coaching responsibilities, ASA offered him English language classes and an opportunity to participate in interactive youth leadership workshops organised jointly by ASA Lider-haz-GO!, an organisation based in Spain.
Anand, once a withdrawn individual, now credits these workshops in helping him improving his self-esteem and understanding the importance of working collectively to achieve one’s goals. He continuously strives to learn and improve as a coach, player and individual. This quality led him to enrol in a massive open online course to learn MS-Office, which later played a key role in helping him become the assistant coordinator of the Anantapur Football League. As part of the role, he was involved in referee allocations, tracking match day expenses and coordination among the football clubs for a smooth functioning of the league.
The youngster, now edging towards 21, upon being asked about his goals for the near future and what made him take up coaching, says, “I see myself as a coach in the long-term as it would offer me a platform to pass on my knowledge and support my peers and children in their lives. I would like to start that by going for the All India Football Federation (AIFF) ‘D’ License in coaching during the upcoming season. ASA played a very supportive role in my life by offering me and many people like me with opportunities through sports to learn and improve, along with focusing on improving our quality of life. I believe I can work with ASA here in Anantapur and play a supportive role in their efforts towards promoting a sporting culture through football.”