Union minister Jairam Ramesh with the Yuwa girls in Ormanjhi on August 9
Ranchi, Sept. 10: Union minister Jairam Ramesh, who was clearly outplayed by the young soccer champs of Ormanjhi block near the capital on August 9, has kept his promise of gifting them a minibus to ferry them from homes to the practice field.
The bus wheels in on Thursday.
Walking for as much as 4km as a warm-up before football practice may sound nice to read, but ask the girls from villages like Rukka and Hutup in Ormanjhi, who’ve done so for years, and they’ll tell you it is a pain.
“We are giving them (Yuwa) a 25-seater bus. This is a gift from Union minister Jairam Ramesh. The bus has been procured from his MPLADS funds,” said Ranchi deputy development commissioner (DDC) Sant Kumar Verma.
In July, 18 Ormanjhi senoritas under NGO Yuwa — run by American footballer Franz Gastler — stunned the world in Spain by winning bronze at the Under-14 Gasteiz Cup, Victoria Gasteiz, and ranking 10th out of 36 teams in Donosti Cup, San Sebastian.
The tribal schoolgirls had been learning their nifty football moves quietly under the NGO for over three years. But their maiden Spanish splash under the banner of My Yuwa India made many, including Union minister Ramesh and chief minister Hemant Soren, take notice.
Chief minister Hemant Soren handed each of the 18 girls Rs 21,000 during the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People celebrations on August 9. The same day, Ramesh paid a low-key visit to Ormanjhi and played soccer with the champs.
So impressed was he that he decided to do something for them then and there.
Though Ramesh is an MP of Adilabad constituency in Andhra Pradesh and can spend only upto Rs 10 lakh from his Member of Parliament Local Area Development Funds Scheme (MPLADS), he decided to gift the soccer senoritas a minibus.
The chief minister had promised a permanent practice ground for them. Sources in the district administration said the file had been sent to the sports department.
Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey, in New Delhi at present, said a scheme under MGNREGS had been sanctioned in Dahu, 5km from Hutup village, where the play field would be developed. “We have sanctioned a scheme from MGNREGS. For any bigger scheme, the government has to take a call,” he said in an SMS.
Sandeep Chhetri, an instructor of Yuwa Foundation, which coaches some 200 village children in soccer now, mostly girls, said a bus would be a great help for the girls. “For instance, we’re running two camps in Hesatu and Hutup. Children have to arrive on foot from their respective villages and get tired or drenched or both. A bus will help,” he said.