The plight of the eight football players not getting meals during the lockdown was highlighted by Gaon Connection on June 6. Now, these girls are getting cash and proper meals
The Jharkhand government, the All India Football Federation, and the Jharkhand Football Association have come forward to help eight football players from Jharkhand – all Under-17 football World Cup contenders – who were struggling to get food and ration during the lockdown.
The recent news of the plight of these sportspersons was prominently highlighted by Gaon Connection and other newspapers. Goan Connection published this story on June 6.
Because of poverty and unemployment, these girls were not able to get regular meals twice a day. In view of this, the Federation has deposited Rs 45-50,000 in the accounts of all the eight girls — Sudha Ankita Tirki, Sumati Kumari, Poornima Kumari, Ashtam Oraon, Amisha Bakhla, Sunita Munda, Neetu Linda and Salina Kumari.
The Jharkhand government has also formulated a special scheme for these eight sportspersons. The sports department of Jharkhand has forwarded a plan to the chief minister, according to which a separate camp will be set up at a stadium in Ranchi. These girls will practice regularly while staying here. There is a provision for their stay, food and a coach will help them practice. Till the time they go back to the Indian camp, they will remain here and prepare themselves. The department of sports needs a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Jharkhand Football Association. A letter has also been written to the Federation for the purpose.
Along with this, Ranjit Bajaj, director of the Minerva Football Club in Punjab, has also come forward to help these sportspersons. On the evening of June 10, he deposited Rs 10,000 in the accounts of all the sportspersons. He said: “It is my duty. These daughters of the country are our daughters. These sportspersons needed to be paid more attention to because they are going to represent the country.” He also expressed happiness over the initiative of the Football Federation (AIFF).
Earlier, Chief Minister Hemant Soren had directed all the district magistrates to identify such sportspersons and provide them immediate help, irrespective of the games. Thereafter, the district magistrate of Gumla prepared a list of all the sportspersons of the district and started providing help to 46 needy sportspersons.
The Football Federation (AIFF) is also keeping a watch on these girls who would be participating in the Under-17 women’s football World Cup. It is constantly devising plans as to how to keep these girls mentally and physically fit and monitor their diet during the lockdown. The team’s chief coach, Thomas Dennerby, and assistant coach, Alex Ambrose, are talking to the players every day through video conferences and are also giving them necessary tips besides mentoring them.
The players are also very happy with this initiative. “There is a lot of encouragement and support,” said Sumati Kumari. “The Federation has helped a lot. Coach Alex has also sent me two footballs. I have included dates, porridge and eggs in my diet. Also, I have started eating chicken and fish. Now I am practicing without any worries. Sumati had scored the highest number of goals in the last National Football Championship.
Poornima, another player, said that her diet has changed too. She has bought fruits and is also taking chicken, eggs, milk and fish. Poornima has also thanked her coaches, federations and those who had helped her. She said: “The coaches are asking me to pay attention to my studies along with the game.”
Meanwhile, a trusted source in the Jharkhand chief minister’s office has told Gaon Connection that these World Cup contenders would be brought to Ranchi in the first week of July. They will be practising at the football stadium at Morhabadi at the government’s expense. For this, experienced trainers from Kolkata are being contacted. The players will be provided with the same diet which has been set by the Indian camp. In addition, the players will also be given a stipend of Rs 175 per day.
He said that the Jharkhand government also wants the Indian team’s camp to be held at Ranchi before the World Cup and the state government is ready to bear all the expenditure. The proposal is being sent to the All India Football Federation. If there is a consensus, the camp will be set up in Ranchi itself. A separate budget of Rs 1 crore is proposed for the camp. If the federation and government agree upon this joint effort, then perhaps it would be the beginning of the golden chapter for football in India.