Author Topic: Help trickles in for Orissa women footballers  (Read 1533 times)

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Help trickles in for Orissa women footballers
« on: September 16, 2007, 02:25:36 PM »
By Manoj Kar
Kendrapara (Orissa): After a bevy of village girls wove magic by their graceful nimble feet, much-needed help in recognition of their dexterity in sporting arena has finally arrived.

Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), country's largest producer of fertilizer, has come forward to nurture the skillful women footballers from Aul-Rajkanika area of this coastal district.   
The remote villages like Malapatana, Giribandha, Goudpatana and several backward pockets continue to churn out the cream of women footballers for the state with five of them representing the country in international matches. The state team comprises mostly players from these areas.

"As a part of our development agenda for peripheral areas, we have embarked on a plan to promote women's football in Kendrapara. These little girls have brought glory to the area through the soccer skill.
We thought these budding footballers need additional support and care," said V.V Suri, Advisor (personnel and administration), IFFCO, Paradip plant.

"We came to know that the upcoming women footballers from these areas come from poor economic background. Though local athletic association and state sports hostel did their best to spot and bolster the soccer talent, there was the need of financial support for furtherance of women's football," Suri observed.

"The representatives of Aul Athletics Association sent us a proposal in this regard requesting us to provide playing kits to the trainee women footballers. We agreed and have released Rs 62,000 as sought for
by the local association. We are happy to be the part of the silent revolution that a bevy of village girls have brought about in remote countryside in Orissa's Kendrapara district."

IFFCO is solidly behind the local body that has done a commendable job in churning out soccer talents in the area. A team of IFFCO officials would shortly visit the area to assess the need for further help to the association, Suri informed.

These tiny river-locked villages lay claim to fame for what these girls have achieved in football field in past three to four years.

Five of them donned the mantle of playing for the country while the Orissa senior women's football team comprises mostly from this region.

The state under-19 and under-16 women's football teams are literally packed with these village girls with 13 of them meriting selection this year, according to Debendra Sharma, the chief patron of women's football in this region.

Incidentally, Sharma heads the district congress committee. But football remains his passion.

If the version given by five internationals - Sashmita Mallick, Suprava Samal, Sangita Patra, Alochana Senapati and Bijoylaxmi Sahu are any indication, the local politician was the principal guiding spirit who nurtured their budding talent.

"We should describe the Aul-Rajkanika region as the nursery of women's football. With girls from this place dominating the state women's football scene, it's really heartening to note that few of them have begun receiving job offers," Sharma noted with a tinge of pride. It all started in 2002 year when the Aul block level mini-stadium hosted a series of exhibition women's football matches. The event evoked tremendous enthusiasm and curiosity with small girls children evincing interest in the game.

"After completion of matches, we invited the girl children to come forward to participate in a training camp. The response was unprecedented. Over 40 girls accompanied by parents eagerly waited for training session to commence. Since then they never looked back".

International stars like Sashmita and four others were churned out in that particular camp supervised by skilful handling of a coach deputed by department of sports. These girls showed immense promise right from day one.

"After trial training was over, Pramod Kumar Patra, physical education teacher of S.K. Dev College volunteered to hone their talent. Later we recruited a trained coach Chittaranjan Patra to nurture these
hardworking girls."

"We overcame hurdles of multi-dimension. The eager participants were mostly from Mallah scheduled caste community. There was little to think in terms of future for these poverty stricken parents and their nubile daughters. But the exposure of girl children to outside world emerged as a major stumbling block and social stigma as well. We had quite a task in winning their confidence," Sharma reminisced.

"We have practically spent from our own purse. After girls began to excel in football field, quite a few made voluntary contributions, but the initial days were quite hard to say the least. Our burden is now being eased with majority of women soccer stars being accommodated in Bhubaneswar-based state government sports hostel," he observed.

"But we shoulder the responsibility of searching new talents every year. We motivate them to go up the ladder. With girls like Alochana, Sashmita emerging as idols, the lookout for women footballers of
genuine class has not been difficult for us so far," Sharma observed.