Namkum soccer girls assemble for a practice session. Telegraph picture
Village girls from Namkum block of Ranchi district are all set to learn soccer, following in the footsteps of their Ormanjhi counterparts who dribbled their way to international fame by winning bronze glory at Gasteiz Cup in Spain last year.
Association for Social and Human Awareness (ASHA), a local NGO that works to curb trafficking and encourages rural women to earn, has made arrangements for the girls to be trained by a professional from French outfit Sports dans la Ville, based in Lyons.
For the extensive training, ASHA has selected 40 young talents, aged between 14 and 24 years, from two gram panchayats — Lalgutwa and Hundwa — of Namkum block, some 15km off the capital.
“A footballer from Sports dans la Ville, Lyons, will come to Namkum on April 8 and stay here for over two months. Though the player has not been decided, he’ll come from the Lyons-based outfit three months later and train the girls on the technical aspects of football. We are getting the soccer trainer from France through our partner NGO in Chhattisgarh, Tomorrow’s Foundation,” ASHA secretary Ajay Kumar said.
Kumar said the outfit had set up 20 sakhi saheli clubs in the two panchayats of Namkum block to educate girls on issues like health, hygiene and livelihood.
“The girls are also discouraged to migrate to metros to work as maids. Some of these girls expressed an urge to learn soccer skills,” he said.
The girls are brimming with excitement.
“We are all looking forward to being trained by the soccer expert from France. Given a chance, we are confident we will do well in tourneys,” said Seema Toppo (21), one of the Namkum dribblers, a student of Nirmala College and secretary of a sakhi saheli club.
With nearly three months left for their mentor to arrive, the Namkum girls have already started learning the basics of the game.
“We are taking the help of local boys and training ourselves in soccer at present. But, once we get a professional coach, our skills will sharpen,” said Munni Kachchap (24), another Namkum aspirant.
ASHA secretary Kumar said their partner NGO Tomorrow’s Foundation had conducted a similar experiment on girls of Dantewada district, a Naxalite hotbed.
“Many of the Dantewada girls of Chhattisgarh lost their parents in the crossfire between rebels and police. They were trained in soccer by French experts and are in great shape now,” he said.
Kumar added that both Namkum girls and their Dantewada counterparts would participate in a tourney organised by Adhunik Group in Seraikela-Kharsawan from January 26-28.
“The girls have their footballs and jerseys. We at ASHA are now seeking sponsors for their boots,” he said. More power to their kick, we say.
Will the Namkum girls bring global glory like their Ormanjhi counterparts? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org