“EV­ERY RU­PEE I EARN GOES TO MY FOOT­BALL TEAM”

India Today - - GOOD NEWS - —by Romita Datta

27 A tribal from Kal­chini in West Ben­gal in­spires girls from her com­mu­nity to play foot­ball, fund­ing the process with pro­ceeds from her tea shack.

Bha­bani Munda, a tribal from the vil­lage of Kal­chini, founded and coaches a foot­ball team of 11 tribal teenage girls, Dooars XI, fi­nanced by her small shack that sells tea and snacks. Dooars XI has played at the state level, and apart from win­ning prizes, also func­tions as a plat­form to save tribal girls who suf­fer re­pres­sion at var­i­ous lev­els. Bha­bani’s bat­tle against the odds—and her love for the sport—be­gan the day she picked up her el­der brother’s foot­ball in­stead of her clay doll, at the age of seven. Quite of­ten, she didn’t have ei­ther a foot­ball or boots for her prac­tice ses­sions, which would be­gin at dawn. A melon would take the place of the ball; and if her limbs swelled up be­cause she played bare­foot, she would mas­sage them with hot oil through the night. Driven out of her home for wear­ing shorts and tak­ing part in a marathon, Bha­bani trav­elled ex­ten­sively in the tea gar­dens, find­ing and coach­ing girls who wanted to play. She would some­times train them in the gar­dens them­selves, the idea be­ing that dodg­ing the small tree trunks would help the girls learn drib­ble bet­ter. On Au­gust 15, 2010, she un­furled the flag of Dooars XI at her dream club—Ju­bilee Club. Of­fers of a coach­ing po­si­tion have come her way from both Aus­tralia and Italy, but she doesn’t want to leave her girls. Leav­ing them, she says, would mean the end of their as­pi­ra­tions to be­come so­cially lib­er­ated and eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent.

BHA­BANI MUNDA (CEN­TRE) WITH HER STUDENTS

BHA­BANI MUNDA, Coach, Dooars XI, KAL­CHINI, JALPAIGURI

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