Jairam Ramesh boards the bus with Team Yuwa and local children in Ormanjhi on Thursday. (Prashant Mitra)
The last time he came, he played soccer with them. This time, he took a fun ride in the very bus that he gifted them.
Union minister Jairam Ramesh was present to hand over the 25-seater minibus to Yuwa girls at Hutup village in Ormanjhi block near the capital on Friday.
Procured for Rs 10 lakh from his MPLADS funds, the bus will ensure that tribal children — learning soccer under Yuwa run by American footballer Frank Gastler — no longer walk to practice
A gentleman’s word
“As I promised you all, here is your gift today,” Ramesh said as over 100 budding footballers jumped in joy.
There were more surprises. The minister handed Barwe mukhiya Sunita Devi documents of a five-acre plot in Dahu village, where a permanent playing ground will be developed.
“We have sanctioned a scheme under MGNREGS for developing the field. In two months, they will have a playground and other infrastructure required to start a club,” Ramesh said
Relief and cheer
“Bahut maza aaega jab match khelne jaaenge toh (We will have fun when we will go for matches,” said sixth grader Nutan Kumari to her team mate Kavita as the two cheerfully made their way inside the bus.
Kavita, a Class IX student, said she had to walk six kilometres daily from her village Sindri to Rukka for practice sessions. “It used to be an ordeal. But now, there won’t be any problem as we have the bus,” she said
“Go out, play hard but never ignore studies in the process,” Ramesh advised the girls, making it clear that he was doing no favour by giving then the bus or the playing ground.
“When I first heard about these kids, I was astonished to see that despite challenges and hardships like lack of facilities, inadequate food et al, they have performed exceptionally well in Spain,” he said
In July, 18 Yuwa girls had won bronze at the Under-14 Gasteiz Cup, Victoria Gasteiz, and ranked 10th out of 36 teams in Donosti Cup, San Sebastian
Help pours in
BIT-Mesra has invited the girls to use its campus for practising till the time they get the permanent ground
“The minister (Ramesh) had also asked us to see if we can train these girls in specialised studies like civil, medicine, engineering et al. We are working on the options,” said P.K. Barhai, vice chancellor of BIT-Mesra, who was present on the occasion