Football to empower girls in Bengal
Sonali Sorenearned a call-up to a national training camp organised by the All India Football Federation camp for U-20 girls in Chennai last month.
Hailing from a poor tribal family in the Kalna region of east Burdwan, she had very few resources to continue her passion. But her dreams became a reality thanks to the support from the Sachin Tendulkar Foundation (STF).
The cricket maestro learnt about the plight of several girls of her ilk from Shreeja India, an NGO, and tied up with its Dhatrigram centre in mid-2022 as part of its ‘Football and Beyond’ programme.
Around 250 girls from 55 villages are enrolled under this sports-based education programme aimed at eradicating gender inequality and ensuring girls lead a life of dignity. The NGO also runs a similar facility in Birbhum.
“Shreeja India believes that sports (football) can be used as a powerful tool to engage, educate, enrich and thereby empower girls,” Somasree Basu, programme manager of Shreeja India, told The Telegraph.
“We are extremely grateful to STF for becoming our partner in this journey to empower girls. We especially want to thank his wife Anjali ji for being actively involved in assuring that every girl here gets wholesome nutritious food every single day,” Basu said.
The initiative provides intensive football coaching and out-of-school learning to the girls, who need support inbreaking away from evils of the society, including early marriage.
Tendulkar has been an advocate of women’s empowerment through sports for along time. STF supports the football programme which includes training, jerseys, nutritional support, education and other requirements.
“STF especially focuses on their nutrition. All the girls are served nutritious food every day,” Basu said.