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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Hanumangarh girls volley into sporting league, to represent Rajasthan

Seven girls of Silwala Khurd gram panchayat in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district have found place in the state volleyball squad, thanks to a dogged coach who would not throw in the towel despite odds

jaipur Updated: Nov 16, 2017 21:09 IST
Sachin Saini
Sachin Saini
Hindustan Times
The girls volleyball team from Hanumangarh. photo-ht
The girls volleyball team from Hanumangarh. photo-ht(HT Photo.)

Seven girls of Silwala Khurd gram panchayat in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district have found place in the state volleyball squad, thanks to a dogged coach who would not throw in the towel despite odds.

The seven selected for the under-19 national level school competition are Suman Bhambu (13), Anita Meghwal (14), Manita Bhambhu (13), Suman Gill (17), Lavpreet Kambhoj (16), Kintu Nayak (14), and Suman Nayak (15) -- all students of the Government Model Senior Secondary School, Silwala Khurd. Four are in Class 10, two in Class 11 and one in Class 12. The School Game Federation of India organises the competition.

Coach Basant Singh Maan said parents were initially not willing to send their daughters to play. “In 2012-13, parents did not allow their daughters to participate in tournaments outside the district. I motivated them, convinced them that the girls will be safe with me as I am a native of the same village. For two-three months, I used to pick girls from their homes and drop them,” he said.

The Hanumangarh team won the 64th senior volleyball championship (women), Maan said. “The district team is winning for the last four years. All 12 players in the district team are from Silwala Khurd. Now, in the 63th National School Student Volleyball Championship, of the 12 players from Rajasthan, seven are from Silwala Khurd.”

The parents of the players are farmers and not financially well off, the coach said. “In the village, sportspersons are not considered good, as earlier a few of them lost track in the absence of proper guidance,” he said.

“Of the seven girls, six are also playing for the State Volleyball Federation, and last year they won silver in the under-14 category,” said Maan, also the vice-president of the federation.

Suman Bhambhu said, “My family initially showed a little inhibition when coach sir spoke to them about me playing volleyball. But they agreed when coach convinced them. My parents asked me if I wish to play, and I said yes; since then I am playing.” She added, “I aim to play for India.”

Suman Gilla did face resistance from her family, but they relented after constant persuasions by the coach. “First, my father said no, as in our family and village, girls moving out is not seen as good. But now I have support of the family, thanks to Maan sir,” said Gilla, who scored 63% in Class 10 board examination.

“Initially when the coach approached us asking to let our girl play, we were a little hesitant as in our village such things were not appreciated. But looking at his approach, we allowed her. At present, four girls from our family are playing the sport; two are selected in the state team,” said Aatma Ram Bhambhu, father of Suman.

Bhambhu, who owns 10 bigah land, has accompanied his daughter to some of the tournaments. “We ensure that Suman eats proper diet,” he said, and hoped that his daughter would make them proud. Asked if he was not feeling financially burdened, the father of two replied, “For whom else am I earning?”

Hanumangarh district collector Prakash Rajpurohit said, “It is a matter of pride that seven girls from a village are selected. The coach is providing free training for the last many years; the administration has helped them by making ground, and providing lighting, changing room, and water facilities.”

District education officer Kuldeep Poonia said, “These players have made the village proud; they will also make the country proud in coming days. Looking at them, other girls would join sports.”

Maan served as a PTI for 32 years at a government school in Sangariya town of Hanumangarh. After he was posted at Silwala Khurd in 2011, he started training girls. Every day he trains the players for three hours in morning and evening.

He retired in 2014 but continued training students; in September 2017, he was appointed as a coach. Maan has produced an Olympian, 13 international and 1500 national players from Sangariya and Silwala Khurd.

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 21:09 IST

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