How one man and volleyball saved these Mumbai kids from drugs

For Mohammad Ismail Khan, ‘Sir’ is the linchpin who holds his life together. He and volleyball. The 18-year-old has been to hell and back — he got addicted to inhaling whiteners, smoking cigarettes, rampantly downing cough syrup and chewing gutka while still in school years ago. Life slipped through the young child’s fingers; his addiction forced him to even drop out of school in Std VIII.

At a time when everybody seemed to have given up on him, Jamshed Farooqui ‘Sir’ found him in 2014. Farooqui, a former state-level volleyball player, offered him a way out: Immerse yourself in a sport and you’d never look back. Today, Khan wears that advice as a badge of honour and makes sure other children are kept out of harm’s way. That Farooqui got through to Khan was no surprise.

Farooqui (46), the coach, has come a long way from being Farooqui, the celebrated captain of the U-19 Mumbai volleyball team that won the state championship in Kolhapur in 1988. He has helped around 30 children associated with drugs turn their lives around with the help of volleyball over the years.
Efforts pay off

Today, his ragtag team is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with around 35,000 young sportspersons from all walks of life at SFA (Sports for All) Mumbai 2016, the second edition of a multi-sport platform that helps bring talented players, sports academies and talent scouts under one roof, from November 28-December 19. This year, 4,500 schools will participate in the competition.

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