When this girl won a medal in a football game, she opened up a whole new field for her classmates. How? Read on!
Fourteen year old Anshu Singh from Gaunpura viilage in Phulwarisarif , about 27 kilometres from Patna, is a ninth grader in Sada Public School, Phulwarisarif.
Her father, Neeraj Kumar Singh, is better off by village standards, owning agricultural land and a four wheeler that he rents out during the wedding season. Her mother, Radha Devi,manages the household. Anshu is the youngest. She has an older sister and a brother.
In Sorampur, some 4 kilometres from her village, the NGO Gaurav Gramin Mahila Vikas Manch encourages girls to play soccer as part of their women’s empowerment strategy. The NGO, supported by CREA (Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action ) has so far introduced over a thousand girls to football in Bihar.
When Anshu signed up for the football programme in early 2017, her father wasn’t enthusiastic about it but didn’t object. ‘I used to get on my bicycle and set off for football training every afternoon, cycling four kilometres to the training ground,’ she says. She discovered her talent in goal-keeping and is the goalkeeper for the team.
‘Last year, we girls happened to play a football match in Arwal district, and we were awarded medals and certificates by the district officers. A teacher in my school came to know of it, and told the headmaster. The headmaster summoned me to the office and said, ‘I did not know that you play football. You have done something that has made us proud. Why don’t you teach some of our girls how to play?
‘I told him: Sir, we have no place to play inside the school, we don’t have a level field. Our headmaster got a part of the school ground level, and made a small space where we could practice football!’
That’s how Anshu inspired her schoolmates, and now some of the girls in the school also practice the beautiful game.
But things have not been easy for Anshu. Of late, her parents have become aware of her ‘growing up’ and have begun to curb her outings for football. Even so, her sister is her support. She takes on Anshu’s household chores and allows her time to practice football.
Anshu gets teary-eyed, at times, because her parents seem to side with her elder brother, who keeps complaining about Anshu being allowed to play football. “For me, football gives me freedom, it empowers me. I want to play football at state level and national level. I am happy to be allowed to come for the Caritas Football for Equality Match. My mother allowed me to come, but my Dad may give me a scolding when I return. I pray that my parents will listen to my trainers and teachers and allow me to reach my goal.”