The Little Oxford English Dictionary explains the meaning of ‘outlaw’ as: noun, a person who has broken the law and remains at large
If we search Instagram, we come across a profile that says:
The Outlaws Girls (Kolkata)
A group of incredibly dedicated women, having fun playing a beautiful game. Age is just a number and the sky is the limit
In our City of Hope, Kolkata, there is a band of outlaws, bending it like Beckham for the last few years. A group of girls led by their inspirational coach, Shatadru Dutt, who is determined to make a difference by empowering girls through a game full of technique and fun.
Shatadru wanted to create a community to bring women from all walks of life together and introduce them to this beautiful sport. Now in his 20s, he began life as a cricketer and soon transferred his attention to football. With a club-level footballer father and a state-level basketball-playing mother, sports have always been a part of his existence.
Coach Shatadru Dutt (centre) wanted to create a community to bring women from all walks of life together and introduce them to this beautiful sportAmit Datta
In 2014, Modern High School hired him as a football coach and there began his dream of giving birth to a girls’ football team. The enthusiasm and participation inspired him to start The Outlaws with help from his friend Rhea Rao, a footballer and social media executive, his primary inspiration.
And there were a... hundred!
What started as a girls’ batch with five players, has today become a community of women who compete with football teams who play professionally. A hundred girls aged 11 to 50 belong to this active club, with three practice sessions every week. There are four turfs in four zones of Kolkata — Minto Park, Salt Lake, New Town and now one huge facility coming up near Lake Town.
“Our main focus is to make fitness a way of life, and The Outlaws provide the best place to be fit!” says an enthusiastic Shatadru.
The best part about The Outlaws family is the contribution of each and every person, the positivity and the motivation provided to each otherAmit Datta
He runs a separate facility for underprivileged girls, about 30 of them on the outskirts of Kolkata, and ensures that his playing teams are a mix of all 130 members. The one for the underprivileged is sponsored, where they provide equipment and jerseys to the girls from the villages.
The best part about The Outlaws family is the contribution of each and every person, the positivity and the motivation provided to each other.
Enjoy the sport and learn through it
What is the way forward for Shatadru and gang? “We believe the whole point of playing with us is to enjoy the sport and learn through it. Having played a lot of local tournaments in the city, the aim for us going forward is to play the 11-a-side Calcutta Football League and continue to inspire other people while growing the community even more.”
A hundred girls, aged between 11 and 50, belong to this active club, with three practice sessions every weekAmit Datta
A shining example of women’s professional football in India is Bala Devi from Manipur, who has been playing for the Rangers FC in Europe. And then there is Brishti Bagchi from Behala, who honed her skills at The Outlaws before playing for AD Colmenar Viejo, a Spanish side!
Vidic, Ronaldo and MMA
But how did football begin for the man behind this women’s team in Kolkata?
With a sparkle in his eyes Shatadru says that he learnt football primarily on television, “watching Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic” who remains his idol forever, inspiring him to become a defender too.
And, then of course, “Ronaldo is god,” he smiles.
‘Our main focus is to make fitness a way of life, and The Outlaws provide the best place to be fit,’ says ShatadruAmit Datta
So, what is the mantra?
“Fitness with football and a healthier lifestyle for the community, an amateur football club leading to professional football, channelling a path for girls to break rules by staying fit, learning self defence and enjoying themselves.”
What about relaxation?
“Oh! I have four Pugs and three Persian cats!”
“To introduce mixed martial arts (MMA) into the curriculum and the new turf which is coming up near Lake Town.”
What started as a girls’ batch with five players, has today become a community of women who compete with football teams who play professionallyAmit Datta
Know some of the Outlaws
Some of the inspirational girls who are part of The Outlaws (I just love the name) are:
- Soumya Prasad (captain): wedding photographer
- Sonal Malhotra: leather bags
- Tamires Barros (Brazilian): online English teacher
- Anahita Gupta: teacher in Modern High School
- Rajni Mishra: teacher in Modern High School
- Bhagyashree Nahata: sports media consultant
- Sheikh Qainat Ahmed: kickboxer
- Roshni Ali: filmmaker and environmentalist
- Anjali Sambtani: hair stylist and salon owner
- Shreya Iyer: national rowing champion
And there are many, many more.
Before I end, I would like to thank my young journalist friend, an Outlaw, who introduced me to this dynamic club. You know who you are.
Cheers to all girls with spirit and boys who help kick-start!