Kochi:A former beggar boy will represent Kerala at the national sub junior football tournament that begins in Punjab from Monday, an official of a boys' home said on Friday.
A resident of the Janaseva Boys Home near here, Raja, 14, was given a warm farewell for his trip to Punjab by about 100 other inmates.
Bipin Jose, who is in charge at the home, said that the boy was the darling of the inmates in the 5-15 age group.
Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Raja was forced into beggary in 2003 when he got off a train at Thrissur in Kerala.
After a year of drudgery, during which he was once beaten with iron rods for failing to collect enough money as a beggar, Raja made it to the boys home to start life afresh.
"From the time he joined us, he has been quite mature for his age. He is now in Class 8 at the NSS Higher Secondary School... The biggest advantage he has is his stamina and his passion."
Raja finally met his father last year just before he died.
"From then on he was a changed person. He is determined to work hard in his life and is a role model for the other boys," said Jose.
Raja began attending a football coaching class organised by the Cochin City Football Academy.
"He has got talent. We are providing the best guidance to him. I have high hopes for Raja as he is a good forward," said former Indian soccer team vice captain C.C. Jacob.