Sylvester Peter’s My Angels Academy shot to fame when one of his best mentees got adjudged the best player in Delhi Youth League in 2015. But the idea of this man goes beyond just football which My Angels Academy revolves around.
Mohammed Tanjeer, at 19, got more than what he could ask for. Coming from a slum in Vikaspuri he had seen poverty from close quarters. Had he not met Sylvester all that he could have done was work as a labourer, do ragpicking or beg. He had also started stealing, drinking and smoking after falling in bad company. But little did he know that one day he will become a professional footballer.
His CV is impressive. He has become the top scorer in DYL in 2015. Tanjeer had an offer to join Liverpool FC’s Pune academy few years back. The plan though did not materialize for lack of funds. Arranging Rs 5 lakh for Tanjeer was a big task.
All’s not lost though. Tanjeer currently gives coaching at a west Delhi private school, and is preparing for trials at Mohan Bagan and East Bengal clubs.
Tanjeer and another boy Rajkumar, were the two of the three footballers who got selected from a crowd of 2,000 in Delhi to visit the training campus of FC Metz in France.
My Angels Academy is a registered trust functioning mainly with the personal savings of Peter and his friends for the past two decades.Cash remains a problem to train more than 130 children. Many entered the academy after fleeing their home for bad conditions.
Many have played in the academy and after training they have not just become sportspersons of excellence but have professionally prospered making a mark in the banking sector and the Civil Services.
Sylvester’s story is interesting he started the academy at the age of 13 to help his economically backward friends. Kids once rag pickers, petty criminals, drug addicts and beggars, are now disciplined and caring kids playing national level football.
When the country sleeps those in the academy wake up as early as 3:30 am in the morning. They wake up, finish their daily chores and head for their football practice, yoga sessions and daily lessons.
Sylvester trains his kids who he fondly refers as “angels” to prove themselves. Starting a small act out of concern for a friend turned into a movement which has changed the lives of over 120 slum children.
The kids talk fluently in English, perform great in football and have immense compassion in their heart.
Apart from football Sylvester also gives lessons on personal hygiene, environmental protection, sex education, gender equality, education, life skills, dancing, painting, etc.
Three of their diligent, highly skilled players have been selected for the prestigious Barcelona football camp.
Over 1,000 children have been associated with the academy at some point or the other in over 29 years of its functioning.
The Delhi Youth League was set up in 2012 with the aim of giving children between the ages of 6 and 19 a chance to play competitive football.
The League over years managed to get over 300 children from various cultural, religious and economic backgrounds to play football together, and learn from each other.
Dutch football enthusiast, Paul Schuttenbelt, was the brain behind the entire league. The League’s tagline is – The best teacher is the game itself.
Wish Sylvester the best in his venture and may he continue to touch lives via football.