“Kabaddi-kabaddi- kabaddi- kabaddi- kabaddi-kabaddi”, Samta Kumari yells out as she stretches out her arm to tag her opponent. She was determined; after days of practicing, a spectacular performance by her team members on a sweltering hot day after school, and as Team Captain she couldn’t fall short and let her team down.
Nor could we let them down. A village level cricket tournament was organised for the boys earlier this month, but they weren’t the only ones who’d wanted to play sport. The girls of Sonwari, one the villages in Rajnagar block where we began work in January, demanded that a kabbadi match be organised for them too. Without losing any momentum the girls, Samta, Guriya, Mamta, Pinki, Chandni, Babita, Arti, Nilam, Phul, Binita, Usha, and Kanchan with Sanjam taking the lead, took permission from the school headmaster, invited parents, community members and the recently formed Village Child Protection Committee members to come cheer them through the match.
Previously, the girls in Sonwari spent their afternoons and evenings after school helping in household chores, but over the last couple of months the girls have participated in an art aspirations project where each shared their aspirations of becoming teachers, scientists, doctors, police officials etc. While the numbers are still few… they are steadily rising as the recently formed girls group is providing the girls in Sonwari a platform for them to come together, commune— to hang out, play games, share experiences, and discuss issues that concern them and their village!
This was not the first time they played kabbadi, yet it was an exhilarating first time that they had an audience inclusive of parents, community members and peers, who cheered them through the game!!