bastar: little money and a lot of passion: Bastar’s women’s football team is making waves | Raipur News

Raipur: Belonging to a small ashram in the Bastar tribal region of Chhattisgarh affected by the Maoist insurgency, a rookie football team made up of local girls Mata Rukmani FC – with very little money and a lot of passion are making their presence felt at the Current Indian Women’s League (IWL), detained in Bhubaneshwar.
IWL debutant Mata Rukmani FC, made up of tribal girls aged 15-20, belongs to a small Mata Rukmani Devi Ashram run by 92-year-old Dharampal Saini Tauji, who has worked tirelessly over the past four decades to improve the education of tribal girls by establishing a series of boarding schools in the areas most affected by the Naxalites. For this noble work, Tauji was conferred Padmashree in 1992.
Aiming to promote talented girls from the tribal areas through football, the ashram formed its small football club, which went on to win the Chhattisgarh league twice in 2020 and 2022 and has now made a foray into the League of Indian Women (IWL) for the first time. . Some of the players from the tribal area also participated in the U-17 Women’s Football Tournament in Kalyani in 2019.
Mata Rukmani FC team does not have the luxury like many other money-rich sports clubs.
They don’t have a proper football stadium to train in Bastar and a nutritious enough diet which is necessary for a team playing national level tournaments. Still, the girls’ team from the remote Bastar tribal area is the center of attention, for all the right reasons.
Laxmi Mandavi, the young captain of the Mata Rukmani FC team, told TOI over the phone from Bhubneshwar that unlike before, her parents now support her interest in the sport.
“I am also excited about the IWL opportunity. I want to show our performance to my parents. I cannot send them videos of our team scoring goals because no one in my house has a smartphone. Once back after I finished the tournaments, I will show them how I scored goals. They will be proud.”
“The girls are very excited to participate in the IWL as it is their first time to participate in such a big platform which provides them with all the facilities, a diet and a good pitch,” said the assistant coach Yogesh Kumar Jangra. He said it is a great opportunity for young girls, who are able to succeed but are not exposed enough so far.
Nonagenarian Dharamlal Saini, the moving spirit behind the success of nearly 3,000 female students in his ashram and also the Mata Rukmani FC team, is an iconic figure who has worked for the reform of Bastar’s tribal society through his work social that helped unleash amazing change. in the outlook and lifestyle of tribal women. When Saini arrived in Bastar in 1976, the literacy rate was 1% and he established a boarding school with only five tribal girls.
Initially, sports were not part of Saini’s agenda in schools, but were later included to solve the problem of restless female students blocking classes by climbing trees and walls to escape. After a district forest suggested channeling this energy for sporting activity, as these tribal girls have immense stamina and at the age of four, they walk barefoot miles to the forest to supply. Thereafter, the ashram schools started teaching them the sport and in 1985 a 14-year-old girl, Mangal Mode, won the first national medal in discus throwing and kabaddi.
The daughters of Mata Rukmani Ashram quickly excelled in the sport with great support from their proud parents. One of the sports girls managed to buy a tractor for her father after winning several cash prizes in national games, motivating other girls to play sports later, many tribal girls participated in sports competitions at across the country and won trophies and cash prizes.

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