Saturday 17th December 2011, Fort Cochin, Kerela.
There was a football match taking place on the dusty field across from my hotel. I joined the noisy crowd and walked the perimeter of the pitch with one eye on the game and the other on the numerous cricket matches taking place on the other side of the park. The batsmen were only playing to one side of the wicket, so as not to interrupt the football, but this didn't stop the constant arguments over disputed boundaries. I stopped on the halfway line to ask the score and got chatting to Rufus. He was the coach for one of the football teams and within two minutes I'd asked him to take part in Wearelucky.
The next day I met Rufus at the pitch and he took me to the local YWCA, where his club held their meetings. He had brought a whole load of press cuttings about him and the team and we spent some time leafing through them. It was clear from the start that Rufus is a special man. He is 81 years old, but looks much younger and he's exceptionally fit. He puts this down to a healthy diet, abstinence from alcohol and nicotine, and lots of sleep, but above all: football. He isn't married but said he was devoted to his club, Santos (named after his favourite Brazilian team made world famous by Pele). He wakes at 4am every morning and prepares breakfast for eight or nine of the poorest kids in the neighbourhood before taking training at 6.30am. He provides the kids with bread and bananas every day and milk and eggs once a week. He said that poor diet is one of the main reasons why the standard of Indian football is lagging behind.
Rufus is well known in the local community and uses his contacts to raise money for the club and to find jobs for the kids. He buys them uniforms and books, and makes sure they all have football boots to play in. Rufus believes in miracles and said that Wearelucky was sent to help with his work and that he and the team would remember us in their prayers every day.
Questions & Answers
1. What have you decided to do with the money?
Most of the trainees are from underprivileged families who find it hard to make two ends meet let alone purchase playing equipments or medical facilities, I have decided to purchase sporting goods and adhere to the medical needs. I am also planning to purchase small football posts and nets.
2. What are you hoping it will achieve?
At our prime stage, Santos was one of the prominent teams in India and had beaten many major teams all over the country with the strength of excellent teamwork. I would like to bring the team to its full glory with the youngsters who are talented and are ready to show the world their capability
3. What does 'good' mean to you?
To me, 'good' means to do something with a honest heart and a clear conscience that contributes to the people and their talents.
4. Did you think about spending the money on yourself and what difference the money might make to your own life?
My family and I understand the value of money and the importance of it in our lives. We could do things for ourselves and be content for the time being, but, the decision to spend it on the club means that we see many smiles and watch the young generation progressing with sport. It's better to be able to fulfil the dreams of many than the immediate satisfaction of a small family
5. Do you feel that being involved is important to the giving process?
Yes, there are many who think that making a contribution means just donating. I have learnt that the real contribution is to being physically active and doing it with a honest heart.
6. Did you feel lucky or responsible?
I believe we get lucky when we are responsible, because just being lucky doesn't mean anything unless you understand the responsibility to retaining the product of luck.