Meet The 17-Year-Old, Ananya Kamboj, India's Goodwill Ambassador To BRICS

Ananya Kamboj is a resident of Mohali, who is already India's ambassador for Football, peace, sustainable development goals, gender equality and youth empowerment at the young age of 17.

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Ananya Kamboj is no ordinary 17-year-old. Since childhood, Kamboj dreamt of a better world for her generation and those that would follow. Still, in her teens, Kamboj is already the Indian ambassador for football, peace, gender equality, youth empowerment and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Kamboj has been selected as the Young Journalist for the 'Football for Friendship' social program. In 2018, Kamboj was the special guest in Moscow as the World Premiere of her book, 'My Journey from Mohali to St. Petersburg', an anthology of twenty-one stories.

About Kamboj's Book

In her book, Kamboj defined the fundamental values that she had learned during her stint at 'Football for Friendship'. While speaking to The Logical Indian, Kamboj defined the social program as "a wonderful platform to celebrate friendship through the unifying power of football". Football for Friendship, she described, is an annual International Children's social program that brings together the children of different nationalities, different genders, while transcending physical disabilities. The project's goal is the development of children's football, fostering tolerance and respect for different cultures and nationalities among children from different countries. The fundamental values that the participants support and promote are friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour. Kamboj was recognized as the best journalist at the event for propagating the program's values through her book.

Kamboj mentioned to The Logical Indian, "When most people talk about a school curriculum, they think about math, science, social studies, and language courses. " Further, Kamboj added, "Seldom do I hear or read about sports as being part of the curriculum. The problem is that the neglect of teaching sports in schools is hurting our youth and causing problems in society. If a person has never learned any sport, how can they discern the difference between victory and defeat? That is the essence of sports education."

Invited By The United Nations As A Speaker

The United Nations have already invited the 17-year-old twice to share her views on peace, women empowerment and SDGs. In 2019, 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. She became a goodwill ambassador of BRICS countries and participated in various other projects, including Girl Up, Girls with Impact, Lean In India, SDGs For Children, SDG Choupal, World Literacy Foundation, and She's Mercedes.

Kamboj told The Logical Indian, "There is lack of football culture in major pockets of India. There is no talent shortage, the infrastructure has massively improved and the government is initiating youth development schemes, the infrastructure is much better now, and the government is initiating several youth development schemes. However, the culture is one thing that is still missing. I strongly feel that our clubs and associations must look forward to tying up with the top clubs from abroad. I believe that building a football culture is paramount."

Challenges Faced After Choosing Football

While talking about the challenges she faced after choosing football, she told The Logical Indian, "Gender stereotyping is still a major issue in India's football. The lack of opportunities at the economic level, financial support and sponsorships are some of the factors that I had to go through. Even though women's football has experienced enormous growth in the last ten years at both amateur and professional levels, the women's game still struggles to gain the same acceptance and status as men's football. I have been playing football in my school and club teams since childhood. I was very offended when my coach used phrases like 'you are playing like a girl'. I need to demolish such discrimination between the genders."



While talking to The Logical Indian about her initiative 'Sports To Lead', Kamboj shared, "Sports to Lead was launched in 2019 to empower women and girls through sports. I want to help women realize their potential through this initiative. I have observed that women in my country do not get equal opportunity as men in sports or education. The initiative will organize sessions in leadership training and life skills for young girls and young boys through classroom sessions and virtual online workshops. It creates leadership skills for life 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."

She mentioned that when trainers train amateurs to shoot a basket or head a football, they also indirectly send across a message reinforcing the inferiority of girls to boys. The discrimination was Kamboj's motivation to pledge to make this world a better, fairer and safer place for women. It was a turning point when she decided to work for girls' empowerment.

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