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New goal for game-changers - Unicef ropes in Yuwa girls to crusade for health, studies

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By ARTI S. SAHULIYAR
  • Published 25.10.14
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We always knew they were celebrities. Now, even Unicef thinks so.

Soccer senoritas of Yuwa, an NGO in Ormanjhi, Ranchi, which believes in empowering tribal girls through football, joined Unicef on Friday as celebrity supporters to work for health, education and proper development of children.

Ranchi girl Deepika Kumari, world number two in women’s recurve archery, is also an Unicef celebrity supporter.

While Deepika got this honour in 2012, 150 Yuwa footballers got this tag two years later.

Eighteen of the 150 girls came to the Unicef office on Kanke Road, where they were briefed on their new responsibilities.

Job Zachariah, chief of Unicef, said the girls would campaign against child marriage and labour, as well as push for education of girls and washing hands with soap to prevent diseases.

Zachariah added that the 150 tribal girls in Yuwa would, on rotation, visit government and private schools and speak on challenging social issues.

“In the first week of November, the girls will visit selected schools in Ranchi, Khunti, Chaibasa and Jamshedpur,” he said.

On why Unicef selected the Yuwa girls, Zachariah said: “These girls have immense confidence and can speak on any issue. Hailing from villages in Ranchi district, they have faced social pressure themselves. And yet, they have gone on to play football, the best ones going abroad and competing in the US and in Spain. They can relate to and inspire students of government schools.”

He added that these girls, like Deepika, were also youth icons.

“These girls are already supporting a three-month campaign against violence and abuse that was launched this month,” he said.

Yuwa girls Nita Kumari and Sharda Kumari, who were captains of their respective club teams, came with other girls at the Unicef office. Asked how they felt, they chorused they were proud of the responsibility that Unicef gave them.

Accha lag raha hai (Feeling good),” Sharda smiled when asked for her reaction as an Unicef celebrity supporter.

Aaj se hee humlog apni dost logon ko batayenge ki chhoti umar mein shaadi nahin karna chahiye (From now onwards, we will tell our friends not to get married at a tender age),” Nita said.

Rose Thomson, Yuwa programme director, said they used football to empower girls in nondescript villages.

“Yuwa team captains, who are tribal girls themselves, track school attendance of others, and also ensure that they attend sessions on English, maths and life skills,” the Yuwa programme director said.