Allow me to quote Rinki, a teeneger and captain of a football team comprised of girls from the tribes of Jharkhand. She says:
” Humko chata mara, aur saaf safai karwaya.”
It means the girls were made to sweep floors, slapped and physically abused. This is story of 18 tribal girls who made a mark at the international football scene – something at which even the men’s football team have conked out. One of the biggest football tournaments in Spain, the Gasteiz Cup, ended with the Indian prodigies securing the third position.
All this with bare minimum facilities. Their coach, Franz Gastler, says they lack proper nutrition and facilities. They don’t even have a training ground! Franz arranged funds from well-wishers in America three years ago, so that he could encourage football in Jharkhand. It was a fiasco owing to operational limitations in India. I guess we all know what I mean by that.
Subrata Dutta, the Vice President of All India Football Association, says that he was not aware of the tournament. Funny, isn’t it?
Now, I’m reproducing all this information for a reason. My voice is against SEXISM.
It’s not just about Jharkhand. It’s about women athletes and aspiring sportswomen from all over the country. And it’s not just about officials and bureaucrats, it’s about the fans too. The Indian football fans.
As it is, the fan following of women’s football is pretty poor in India.
We spend hours discussing if Ronaldo is better than Messi and never bother about the Indian football scene. It’s an act of treason if we are not encouraging locals and keep vicariously basking in the glory of our favourite football clubs abroad year in year out.
Why can’t we follow women’s football? Do we think they won’t produce the same level of excitement/skills/athleticism in the game? That is a brazen lie.
Let us accept it. Football is a sexist game. It’s all about Champions League, EPL and La Liga. It’s one the finest example of commercially successful ventures in the modern times. It’s about money, fame and fringe benefits relating to moral fibre.
We have used football to fight racism. To raise funds for the needy. For entertainment. Why can’t we use it to fight sexism?
If we demand ESPN/Star Sports to show all 38 fixtures in EPL and we spam their walls when they don’t, why cant we do the same and demand broadcasting of women’s football matches?
Give it a thought. If a certain Mahendra Singh Dhoni becomes your idol because you like the idea of a small town boy making it large, think about those 18 girls.
No ground. No proper nutrition. Poverty. Physical Abuse. They even had to do their household work while training. You can imagine the amount of hard work Franz has put in.
It surely is a big fight. And it’s nothing new. Read the history of tennis. People argued women couldn’t play tennis. We watch them play for hours today. Will women’s football have a similar happy ending story? Well, it’s up to us. They have the talent already. There are thousands of Rinkis out there. All they need is your support, faith and passion.Published 02 Aug 2013, 06:57 IST