Follow us on
Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Special Reports
Backward Jharkhand girls prove their mettle, defeat Modern School in football
Thursday November 14, 2013 7:42 PM, Firoz Bakht Ahmed

Yuva JharkhandWhen Babita 14, one of the 18 backward and poor Jharkhand girls who have recently won the third place in Spain's Gasteiz Cup, scored the first of the two goals in a promotional match at Modern School against a team comprising of the girls from the host school and 35 countries, she was elated, "Hum world champion banna chahtey hein!" (We want to be the world champions)

The disadvantaged Jharkhand girls' football team "Yuva" hailing from the backward and tribal were here in Delhi staying at Modern School for playing this football match with an international students' team consisting from 35 schools (from China, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Pakistan, Italy, France, Dubai etc) as part of the social interaction program of Community Development Leadership Summit (CDLS) at the school.

In a well contested match, the underprivileged girls won the match 2-0 with Babita Kumari and Sunita Kumari (right out) scoring a goal apiece in each of the two halves. What has captured the imagination of the people, however, is not this victory or the third position in Spain but their fight against official apathy and their fight against patriarchy and societal odds.

Of their struggle to come up and make the dent felt on the sporting fabric of India, Sunita Kumari (goalkeeper) stated that in the beginning, the state officials, rather than guiding and helping them, treated them as chattel and maid servants asking them to scavenge the floor, dust their houses and offices besides trying to outrage their modesty even. Their rise to glory was like walking on a razor sharp hill or a tweezers grip.

This is done to promote the spirit of 'unity and inclusion through sport' under the aegis of Modern School and "UMMEED" a non-profit NGO started by a class 12 student Avanee Singh.

Praising the technical expertise of these Jharkhand girls, Lata Vaidyanathan, principal, Modern School, stated, "For many people–most especially, adolescent girls–teams have the potential to offer a network of positive role models, a consistent group of friends, and the opportunity to build confidence in themselves."

Franz Gastler, an American who first came to Jharkhand to teach English, is the founder of NGO Yuwa. "While teaching English in the village of Hutup, outside state capital Ranchi, Franz asked one of the girls what she liked to do in her free time. She said she liked to play football and wished she could play on a team. Franz told her that if she found some other girls who wanted to play, he could lead practices for them. He saw the enthusiasm and dedication of the girls and recognized that a football team could be the perfect platform upon which to promote education and instill confidence," says Thompson.

However, Franz laments that these girls can't practise with other girls teams in Jharkhand as there aren't any in that state. At the most, they play against boys' teams. Except the cities like Delhi, Goa, Kolkata and Mumbai, women's soccer hasn't really taken shape in India. Recently, Franz also accepted the national award for Best Promotion of Sports in Education from Milkha Singh and Ranbir Kapoor.

According to Rose Thompson, director of Yuwa, the girls' parents are now proud of their achievements. But it has been a rocky ride. Jharkhand, the girls' home state, is considered the number one trafficking centre in Asia. Girls here are married as early as 15 years of age, and spend most of their time doing household chores. The boys of the village are believed to try to take over the ground where these girls practise, even though they may have never played anything there before.

Adds Thompson, "Girls playing football was sacrilege!" When these girls went to get their birth certificate, required for their visa to play in Spain, they were reportedly slapped by the panchayat members. They are only said to have got the visa thanks to Gastler.

Most of the girls' parents are either farmers or labourers. When asked how the cause of these girls can be uplifted, Franz stated that NGOs like "Ummeed" in Delhi and some corporate houses have been kind enough to take care of the girls till now but need of the hour is that the government must come up to help these hapless and forlorn girls.

Share this page
Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of
comments powered by Disqus
| Quick links
Contact us
Subscribe to: RSS » Facebook » Twitter » Newsletter Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.
© 2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.