- #KickOffTheDream videos marking the build-up to International Women's Day
- Uplifting personal stories highlight sport's importance ahead of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2021
- That global showpiece takes place between 17 February and 7 March
International Women’s Day will be marked tomorrow and, for India, there is another key milestone on the horizon. In November, the country will host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup as part of an ongoing effort to boost the beautiful game’s development and women’s sport in general.
The ever-growing appreciation of the huge, wide-ranging benefits of participation in sport, and the importance of those benefits being available to both genders, has been conveyed this week in an uplifting video series from the India 2021 Local Organising Committee (LOC).
These #KickOffTheDream stories illustrate the changing face of female sport in India, showcasing inspirational women and girls, along with a few fathers who’re helping pave the way to equality.
A passion passed on
Though he is a former captain of India’s national hockey team, Viren Rasquinha admits football is his “biggest love”. That passion, and his devotion to Liverpool, has been passed down to his daughter. And Rasquinha, who runs an organisation called Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), couldn’t be prouder to see this interest flourish.
“Girls all over the country need to be given the opportunity to play any kind of sport,” he says. “We must do everything we can to give them the opportunities. I love to see girls excelling in sport, and I’m sure my daughter will be really excited to see the U-17 Women’s World Cup in India.”
A family of coaches
“My father literally had no social life. He dedicated his life to us.” So says Dalimma Chhibber, one of two daughters to have benefited from the guidance of the passionate football coach, Om Chibber. Dalimma represents India’s national team and has also moved abroad to play in Canada’s University League, while sister Akanksha is a Match Commissioner and works with the All India Football Federation. In fact, the entire Chibber family – including Om’s wife and son – are certified football coaches. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Delhi league breaking new ground
Growing up with a passion for football, Aneesha Labroo was shocked to find herself surrounded by other women who had never played sport of any kind. "Now they’ve come here and suddenly they’re obsessed with the sport and are playing three or four times a week,” she says with a smile. ‘Here’ is Kica Football League, Delhi’s first amateur football league exclusively for women, of which Labroo is the founder. In this league, passion is matched by diversity.
As Labroo says: “Our youngest player is 13, our oldest is 44 – we have moms, girls in school and people from all backgrounds and classes."
The daughter-father duo who conquered Everest
“We basically spent two years eating, sleeping, breathing Everest, " says Deeya Bajaj, one half of the first parent-and-child duo to ascend the legendary mountain on its tougher north side. Father Ajeet, meanwhile, explains his eagerness to introduce his daughter to the delights of mountaineering, kayaking, skiing and other outdoor activities.
“I thought getting her into sport and into adventure would be far better for her as a person. I definitely believe in academic excellence - but sport and adventure is equally important,” he said.
Choma Eagles starting to soar
The series concluded this morning with a look at the uplifting story of the Choma Eagles. The team's founders, Lt Col (Retd) Pradeep Kumar Chowdhri and his wife, former army school principal Anjana Chowdhri, explain how they've used football to help some of the poorest girls in the state of Haryana.
"The lives of these players have become completely different since getting into football," explains Anjana. "Now they feel they can do anything."