Veiled Sports
Sports In Veil

Girl students in Haryana actively pursue sporting activities in the light of the success at the recent Commonwealth Games. At the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi recently, Haryana took home 10 of the 25 gold medals that India won. Its women athletes were lauded for their skill and sportsmanship in various games, notably wrestling and shooting. Most of the participants came from humble backgrounds and displayed courage and determination. Haryana being notorious for its feudalism, conservatism and subjugation of women, Satyawan was spurred into wondering how these women managed to overcome the rampant barriers of prejudice to become international success stories. As a focus for his story, he didn't have to go far. In the neighbouring village of Litani, which is located in the same block as Satyawan's own home, there is a team of girls who attend the local government school during the day, and dedicate the rest of their hours to honing their sporting skills. The inspirational sports teacher at the school dedicates his free time to training these girls in kabaddi, handball and khokho. Satyawan, whose aunt lives in that village, has passed the field where they play, and where they compete in inter-village and inter-block tournaments many times. Recognizing the power of sport to build confidence and engage young people constructively, Satyawan himself organized a small village tournament in 2006. It is not completely accidental that Haryana had such unprecedented success in the recent games, however. The government has been investing in a comprehensive and results-based sports policy which encourages every student to play one sport at school, and awards every sportsperson who wins a national or international championship a cash award and a government job. What is surprising, is that women have been allowed to participate in equal measure. Satyawan, who encourages his wife not to wear a veil - something unheard of in rural Haryana - wants his four-year-old daughter to become a sporting success. For this to be a possibility, he says there should be more playing fields and more professional coaches at schools. Most of all, though, Satyawan believes that parents should encourage their girl children to pursue these dreams.

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