Sports in India is largely seen as a domain for men. If someone asks you to name the current players of the Indian men’s cricket team, you will be able to answer easily. However, if the same question is asked about the Indian women’s cricket team, will you be able to do that?
This is why sports promotion for women in the country is important.
Sports bring a positive change in one’s life. They take care of the overall development of an individual, including physical and mental well-being. Sports inculcate values like teamwork, discipline, leadership, respect, focus, integrity, honesty, and professionalism. It makes one independent and self-reliant. Moreover, it builds the confidence and self-esteem of a person.
A majority of boys in India enjoy great exposure to sports. They are encouraged and supported when it comes to building their careers in the same. However, the same cannot be said for girls.
Understanding the need and the unjust divide, several organizations in India are working to promote sports for women. Some of the notable initiatives are as follows:
- Khelegi toh Khilegi
On January 24th, 2017, on National Girl Child Day, an initiative called “Khelegi to Khilegi” was launched. The two bodies supporting this program are National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS)and Nurturing Excellence in Sports Trust (NEST). This program is for girls aged between 10 and 15 years.
“Khelegi to Khilegi” translates to “she will blossom if she plays”. The initiative promotes football and aims to develop leadership skills, break gender stereotypes, and improve self-esteem through the means of the game. The launch of the program saw more than 700 girls participating from across Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). In its first year, the program will spread out to 14 more cities.
The program will identify young talented girls and offer them training. It aims to prepare the girls to represent the country on an international level. Apart from this, workshops will also be held to discuss issues related to the girl child as a part of the program.
Yuwa is an organization that works for empowering women. Its soccer empowerment program launched in 2014 is aimed at the young girls of Jharkhand. Yuwa chose Jharkhand for its program because the state has a high rate of girl child trafficking, female illiteracy, and child marriage. Through the medium of the game, Yuwa aims at giving a supportive and safe context to the girls, increase their school attendance, equip them with life skills, and help them lead their lives independently.
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The program nurtures these girls to bring out leaders in them. Soccer teams are made and given training before and after school. The program is not limited to soccer development. It focuses on other aspects as well. Every week, the teams attend an hourly workshop. The workshop talks about health, self-esteem, basic finances, gender-based violence, and other things in an engaging and creative manner. It promotes self-reflection and critical thinking. Apart from this, all the teams are also enrolled for Yuwa’s academic bridge program. This program offers mathematics, science, English, and computer classes, and even personal tutoring for those who need it. It also assists students in transferring to a better school and teaches them the importance of education.
- It’s my body
It’s my body is a campaign launched by CREA, a feminist organization. The program is aimed at educating adolescent girls about their sexual and reproductive rights through the medium of sports so that they can fight evils like child marriage and girl infanticide. The girls play varied games, including football, karate, kho-kho, cycle racing, and kabaddi, among others.
The program is spread out in states of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. It works to build qualities like leadership, teamwork, independence, body image, and self-esteem. CREA believes that sports will help girls handle safety and security. Through its programs, it makes young girls step out of their homes, increase their public representation in sports, and assists them in bonding well with one another.
Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) is an initiative aimed at revolutionizing school and college sports in India. Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), supports the program completely. Founder of Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani believes that sports complement academics by inculcating values in young minds. Through RFYS, she aims to reshape sports at the grassroots level and foster a sporting culture in the country.
RFYS conducts football tournaments at the school, city, and national level in the junior and senior categories. The initiative offers opportunities to both girls and boys. Kicking off with football, the program aims to include games like tennis, basketball, football, and volleyball. The program reached more than 20 lakh children across 2,000 schools in just the first year of its launch.
The program offers training facilities and sports equipment to a number of institutions. It trains and prepares the youth for competitions and gives them a platform to refine their talents and encourages their passion for sports. It focuses on nurturing the untapped talent of the country.
Sports for women in India is at the nascent stage. A lot of promotion and programs are required to reach the huge female population of India. In such a scenario, the dedication and efforts of these initiatives are applaudable. Extending support to these noble causes will help us make India a country that carries the torch for female sports.