They might not have had a level playing field to start off with, but soon, the tribal girls of the Yuwa soccer club in Ormanjhi will have their own football stadium, complete with residential facilities.
“We are soon going to identify the land and begin the construction work,” promised the newly appointed chief minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren on Friday, after he met the girls, who have just returned home from their first international match in Spain.
Five years ago, American Franz Gastler founded this club for tribal girls between 12 and 14 years in this small town, 20 km from Ranchi. From convincing the parents to let them play to training them, it has been a long rough journey since.
Soren also announced a cash award of R21,000 to each of the players and said the government would felicitate them on national sports day.
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Rajya Sabha MP Sanjeev Kumar also made a similar announcement in New Delhi on Thursday.
Just before the girls left for Spain, many of them approached the local panchayat sewak, Dinesh Sao, for birth certificates so that they could apply for passports. Sao allegedly sought bribe, slapped and abused some of the players and made others sweep the floors when they refused to pay up.
A day after HT highlighted the girls’ plight in its May 1 edition, Sao was removed from the post.