Girls see way out of ghetto through cricket

September 17th, 2008 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Sep 17 (IANS) Sports has been a way out of ghetto all over the world. Now a group of girls in a Chandigarh slum are using the same route.In proper cricket whites and the rest of the kit, 45 girls who live in Bapu Dham Colony are practising very seriously at the cricket ground of the Government Model High School in Sector 26.

Their dream of making it to the Indian team - like their heroes from this city, Kapil Dev and Yuvraj Singh - is being backed by the NGO Yuvsatta and the local administration.

“They are living in such traditional settings where girls’ mobility is restricted only to the four walls of their houses. Here early marriage is common and most of the girls are early dropouts from school or some of them have never been to school,” Parmod Sharma, coordinator of Yuvsatta, told IANS.

“Keeping all these things in mind Yuvsatta with the help of the Chandigarh Education Department started a programme that combines sports, literacy and life skills training to empower the girls of this area.

” ‘Yuvsatta all girls cricket team’ is part of this programme,” said Sharma.

A former national level player coaches the girls. Other local cricket clubs have been supporting them too. The Life Insurance corporation (LIC) cricket club has spent Rs.2.6 million to do up the the school grounds and to provide the best possible facilities to the team.

Brand new nets have been installed in the ground and excellent pitches laid down. Cricket kits and uniforms have been distributed free to all the girls.

“This effort can certainly change the stereotype image of ‘girl child’ and will raise their status in society. The administration ensures every sort of help to facilitate this,” said S.K. Setia, director of public instructions (schools) in Chandigarh administration.

Sharma said: “These girls have immense pressure on their minds while they are in their houses or in school, but once they enter the ground they look cool and composed, free from any pressure. We also conduct regular discussions after the practice session in which these girls speak out very confidently.”

Regular participation in sports increases their physical fitness, helps to reduce chronic diseases, and boosts their mental health by reducing symptoms of stress and depression, added Sharma.

“Such things will also inculcate leadership qualities and team spirit in the girls that will help them in later years.”

“I would like to follow the footsteps of Yuvraj Singh and want to represent our national cricket team one day. Initially my family did not allow me to play, but seeing the facilities provided to us they gave me full support,” said Poonam, captain of the team.

“After joining this team, I have extended my social network. Now I am enjoying the real freedom of expression and movement. I have no qualms in saying that the times spent on the cricket field are the best moments for me,” said Mala, another team member.

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