Chak De girls play hardball to make most of free CP

July 28, 2014

New Delhi

At 6.30am, dressed in maroon uniforms and armed with hockey sticks, a gang of girls made way into the middle of Connaught Place. Unlike the rest of the crowd, who were there for a bit of fun on a Sunday morning, these members of Jharkhand Tribal Hockey Association were out on a serious mission.“Due to lack of space, we are often practising in parks, playgrounds and sometimes in schools. Raahgiri has given us a place to practise and put  spotlight on the girls who are extremely talented but completely unknown,” said their coach Sushil Kumar Tirke.About 32 teams are part of the association in Delhi of which six are women’s teams.“People from across Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have made their small teams in the city.  They wanted to come for Raahgiri and we are most happy to showcase the sport. Despite being our national game, very little attention is paid to hockey and this was an opportunity to involve more people,” said an NDMC official.

Passersby called them the  ”Chak De girls ” after a popular Bollywood film, but the girls remained focused on the game. Several borrowed their hockey sticks to practise a few shots and the boys’ team hap pily assisted those who needed tips on the game.

Asha Khakha, a 25-yearold from Simdega district in Jharkhand, has been in Delhi for the past 10 years. “There is a lot of craze for hockey in our state and parents encourage children, even girls, to participate. I have played for my state,” she said.

Alisha Vispota, a 13-yearold from Raigarh in Chhattisgarh, said she had left school to pursue hockey. “There is no money and sponsorships but we love the game and are living away from our families to learn the game and get a chance to represent our states and the country.” Several of the girls are studying in government schools while the older ones have low-level jobs in government establishments. “Last year three boys got into the army while a few made it through to CRPF. That is the only way they can sustain themselves as none of them are properly educated. No state government is helping out financially or providing us with facilities to train these children. We plan to come here every Sunday now,” said Tirke. (e-paper)

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