The girls get busy warming up before the Kabaddi practice session begins at 5.30 am at the Palam Sports Club in Dwarka, Delhi. Neelam Sahu, the 50-year-old coach and physical education teacher at Palam Sports Club, has been imparting Kabaddi training to girls, ensuring that they become star players and self-dependent. There is no denying that it is enormously hard for girls to play the sport and find a way to make a living out of it. For women aspirants, the struggle begins at home. Girls are discouraged by parents from entering the sport regarded as a male preserve. “Parents have reservations about their daughters wearing shorts,” says 22-year-old Sita Arya from Sonipat, Haryana, who had a tough time convincing her parents to let her play kabaddi. Financial hardships are another massive deterrent.
Many girls come from an extremely financially poor household. Someone’s mother is a household maid, someone’s father sells food roadside. While the amount of hard work put in building a strong team has been above par, the sports club and the players need more financial support to only get better. ”We don't have better facilities here. The game is played on mats internationally. But we don't have mats. To play on mats, one needs to wear mat shoes but how much can we provide? If we get better facilities we can train more players to play for the country. If we are given better accommodation and a bigger ground we can train more players” say Ajay Sahu. The couple also struggles to provide a suitable diet to all the players. A player's diet primarily consists of four glasses of milk per day, however, they are only able to provide one glass of milk to each player per day. That barely meets the basic requirement.
Apart from mats, the mat shoes are another crucial requirement. Neelam says that if they are provided more equipment and assisted financially, the results would improve radically. “Players wear mat shoes to play on mats. How many should we provide? Every few days their shoes wear-off. If the players are provided facilities like these, their game will improve manifold”, she adds.
The Sahu's are now facing financial challenges and need your support to prepare an able female kabaddi team in India. They need monetary assistance for better meals, training equipment and transportation to multiple tournaments. All funds donated go directly to cover such important expenses.