In a first, 5 women strive to form an all-girls football team at JNU
Since the Jawaharlal Nehru University does not have a women team, Sharma had been practising football with the boys’ team for the last one year.
In what could be a first for Jawaharlal Nehru University, two students who share their love for the game are trying to put together a women’s football team.
It all started at a football workshop during the last summer break when the two football enthusiasts met.
Since they had played the game, plans to rekindle their passion and beginning practice materialised.
Then, they thought about inviting others to form a team.
Sukriti Sharma and Devika Shekhawat, both 22, second-year Master’s students, then put up posters across the campus, inviting women to join them, which soon became a part of the conversation over cups of tea at popular hang outs on the campus.
With three more students joining them, the strength has gone up to five.
Since the university does not have a women team, Sharma had been practising football with the boys’ team for the last one year.
“I was the only girl playing with 10 other boys. But I did not enjoy the game and had to struggle hard to bring my game up to their level. There was so much pressure on me to justify my place in the team. I wanted to have a space where women can play freely without being judged and intimidated,” said Sharma, who is pursing MA in Political Science.
While Sharma played football during her school and college days, Shekhawat could not continue the practice after school. But she wanted to pursue the game.
“When I joined the campus, I could not find any woman playing football. And, then I finally met Sukriti. We decided to start something for women football lovers. Since Sukriti knows the sport, we decided that she would train others as well,” said Shekhawat, a student of MA in Sociology.
The five women now practise on weekends between 6am and 8am at the JNU sports stadium. Madhure Akilla, 26, who has recently joined the duo, is a native of a small town in Tamil Nadu.
An MA English student, Akilla is a first-year student. She has never played football.
“I saw a poster inviting women to join a football group even if they do not have any prior training. It was motivating for me as I always wanted to learn football. I have been practising with the girls for the last three weeks and I am loving it,” she said.
Nancy Yadav, a Delhi based state-level martial arts player and a PhD scholar at JNU, also got to know about the women football group through the posters.
“I was so moved by the initiative. I have always been in sports and I wanted to polish my football skills. This is the best platform one can get to play and enjoy the game,” she said.
Buddha Singh, associate dean of students’ welfare (III) at JNU, who also looks after sports-related matters, said that despite several attempts by the administration, the university could not put together a women’s football team.
“Most girls preferred badminton, tennis, shot put and athletics. Even though the participation of women students in volley ball and swimming has risen in the last few years, there have been very few takers for football. If a few women are interested in making a football group, we will encourage them and support them,” he said.
Sharma, however, said they want to keep their group independent of administration’s involvement as of now.
“We do not know how far it will go. We are not even sure if we will be able to form a team or a group. We do not want any involvement from the administration for now. It’s a long way to go. Our initial idea is to have a space where women can play and enjoy football,” she said.