Last year, West Bengal police used the world's most popular game to win hearts in Red Zone Jangalmahal. This year, they are targetting women. And besides football, have introduced a game with local resonance — archery — to attract women.
"Tribal women routinely take part in local archery competitions. So we decided to organise an archery competition, besides football," said Sunil Choudhuri, superintendent of police, West Midnapore district.
The schedule for the tournaments is yet to be announced. However, Choudhuri said archery and football competitions for women will be held first, followed by football for men.
To begin with, the competition will be held at police-station level only. District level and inter-district level tournaments will be organised in future, police said.
Last year, over 750 clubs of different police stations in the Maoist-affected region, which comprises districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, took part in the tournament, titled Jangalmahal Cup, making it a huge success with players and spectators alike.
However, women in the region felt left out and many of them had even registered their disappointment with police officials. Hence, this year the administration decided to hold competitions for women too.
Jangalmahal Cup is part of chief minister Mamata Banerjee's agenda to reach out to the youth and to develop the sports infrastructure in the Maoist terrain. Banerjee had felicitated the clubs last year and even announced financial help to them.
"These competitions are part of the state police's strategy to connect to the people in the area. The first tournament was a huge success. Though there has been a significant drop in Maoist activities in Jangalmahal, we have decided to continue with the tournaments," said a police officer on condition of anonymity.