Table of Contents
Jharkhand Sports – The Cradle
The revolution started almost seven years ago. It was the Jharkhand sports ministry that initiated a talent-hunt program via newspaper advertisements after having developed the infrastructure of its 24 district sports centers throughout the state. The aim was to provide for those girls and boys a healthy life through sports who were struggling to survive their dire financial distress. The girls and boys from local and remote areas joined the program and an average of 600 students (including boys and girls) were selected finally from the trials. Each sports center recruited an average of 25 students. That was the beginning. And today Indian football is witnessing its reflection. Six girls were able to ensure their berths in the Indian team’s Under-17 World Cup football Championship. Jharkhand has played a revolutionary role in gifting footballers to the national team.
Jharkhand Sports – The Prelude
The six girls who donned India shirts in the Under-17 World Cup were Astham Oraon, Purnima Kumari Nitu Linda, Anita Kumari, Sudha Tirkey, and Anjali Munda. Astham and Purnima are defenders. Nitu Linda is an attacking midfielder while Anita and Sudha are forwards and Anjali is a goalkeeper. All these six have come from such families whose fathers are daily wage laborers and they struggle every moment to survive dire financial crises. Ashtam who was captain of the Indian team in the Under-17 World Cup is from the Gumla district and her parents both are daily wage laborers. Nitu Linda’s story is also the same. The midfielder from a remote village in Ranchi lost her mother at the age of nine. Then her brother looked after his sister working in a brick kiln. Most of these girls did not get the least amount of needed food. They used to have only fermented rice before practice. The sports centers in Jharkhand changed their lifestyle to a major extent. The girls get nutritious food, and the opportunity to reside at furnished hostels that have been constructed within the complex of the centers.
The reflection of this nourishment was first seen in the 2019-20 sub-junior girls’ national football championship that was won by Jharkhand consisting of these girls. Nitu Linda became the star, scoring 13 goals in four matches.
Sony Kumari is one of the prominent football coaches in Jharkhand women’s football. She was the coach of YUWA, a non-government organization that started a mission of campaigning against child marriage as well as trying to educate the people and also offering them to send their children to a healthy life through sports. Sony Kumari joined Hazaribagh center of sports as a coach five years ago. Sony who sounded extremely glad for her two students, Ashtam and Purnima’s performance told over the phone,
“It was a historic feeling when I heard Ashtham and Purnima were selected in the under-17 Indian team for the World Cup and Ashtham was chosen the captain. Both of these girls came to this center in 2016. They were passionate about the game. Even during the torrential rain when the ground condition at the center became unplayable with big grasses and rough surfaces, Astham and Purnima had trained under my observation. I believe Ashtam and all of the other five World Cuppers have potential and they will prosper. We the coaches who are associated with the centers have become more inspired to produce more footballers for the country in the future.”