This program aims to break gender barriers in a rural setting by creating opportunities for women and girls to engage in sports.Through sports, we provide a platform and a safe space to create awareness on topics like sexuality, women’s rights, autonomy, domestic abuse and legal support.
The benefits of sports are endless: Sports play an integral role in the development of a well-rounded personality, it facilitates social inclusion and integration, it teaches the value of teamwork, promotes leadership skills and encourages females to understand their bodies and build resilience and self-confidence. All these attributes help women to speak up and inspire others to do the same. We realised that, whenever we organised the traditional game, Kabaddi, the women participated with a lot of enthusiasm, showing their communities what they are capable of achieving.
The idea to host a kabaddi tournament was discussed with the Federation, and they supported and loved the initiative. When communicated to the village SHGs, 31 women groups signed in, and 24 actually participated. The referees, female government coaches, provided training and mentioned that it was the first time they saw such a big number of women participating. They selected 45 women as best players to get further coaching, leading to regular competitions on a local, district and regional level. The women chosen were jubilant, as being selected gives them recognition in their SHG and villages.
Women and girls participation in sports, challenges the community norms about their roles and capacities which traditionally label them as weak and inferior. They develop strength, endurance and self-confidence, which helps them to be more socially assertive and resist pressure to conform to gender-stereotyped notions. Slowly but steadily they gain power over their own lives and start doing things in their own interests rather than at the command of others.
Out of the 45 women, 30 missed the training sessions, because the coaching is on Sundays, when the entire family is at home, and they have to take care of them. The other 15 women have shown an indomitable spirit by training despite the hurdles of having to wake up very early to do their household duties, go to work and travel a long distances. We provide them with breakfast to try and meet their nutritional needs.