Mallakhamba, traditionally a male-dominated sport, has found takers among tribal girls of Madhya Pradesh. Taking the lead are girls from Kundarpura village, about 9 kms from Khajuraho. Their trainer believes that the girls as well as the boys from this area in Bundelkhand have the willpower and the talent to represent the state and country at national and international sports meet, respectively.
“I have been training girls for one-and-a-half months and they have shown immense potential. As a sport, mallakhamba asks for immense physical and mental strength. These girls have displayed both,” said Indrajeet Dixit, the trainer working with Kabeer Foundation, an NGO that runs a multi-art school.
“These children have the will and the talent to represent the state and the country at any stage,” he added.
Dixit had initially started by training boys from the village. “The girls used to remain present during the training for boys. I asked them to perform some basic tasks and decided to train them when I saw a spark in them,” said Dixit.
Kundarpura is a tribal village and home to about 400 Kondar families with farming as principal occupation. The village already had a government school when Khajuraho-based Kabeer Foundation decided to run its multi-art school there.
“The main aim behind establishing the centre was to work towards eradicating malnutrition and improving the health and education of these children. The children enrolled with the centre are provided nutritious diet,” added Dixit.
Currently, 150 children from at least three villages, are being trained in arts such as dancing, singing and drama and sports such as football, cricket, kho-kho and mallakhamba. They reach the centre at around 7 am and leave for the government school at 10 am.
Detailing the reason behind choosing mallakhamba, founder of Kabeer Foundation, Geeta Zurini said, “Bundelkhandis are very robust and have a rich legacy of being strong physically. It was disheartening to see children here suffering from malnutrition. We initially worked towards improving their health. Later, to develop their mental and physical strength, we started training them in mallakhamba, which is a famous traditional sport here and one which we knew will not be disapproved by any child’s parent.”
“I am always present when girls are trained. They are strong and talented and are already giving tough competition to the boys,” she added.