The project aims to highlight the plight of women’s football in the capital region and work towards improving it.
Shiv Mittal is an individual who has a passion for football and a drive to contribute to the sport.
He is working towards bringing professionalism to women’s football in the country which is a very noble cause. His heart ails after hearing the tales of woe by women and young girls who are playing football, which is a revolutionary step even today in the Indian context.
He has a project where work is done to promote football as a viable option for young girls. A total of 50 girls are already receiving football coaching in three schools across Faridabad. They will be taught the nuances of the game over a period of nine months. Vidya Mandir School was the first institution to come into the fray after which Vidya Niketan and Maniskriti School have also become a part of the project.
The objective of Mittal’s project is to provide girls that are 10-12-years-old a chance to play sports, explore new schools and develop as individuals. Indian society still lags behind in introducing sports to young girls and this project strives to change that. To transform the aspirations into action, a coach has been hired and ₹5 lakhs in funding has been provided for equipment through adopt a soccer girl initiative. Young girls are provided with full kits and their nutritional plans are created to help them keep up with the physical demands of the sport.
The inspiration and the desired outcome
According to Mittal, the inspiration for the project was born after witnessing the poor condition of women’s football. Seeing how girls lacked basic resources that he, as a male football player, enjoyed was a motivation to bring a change. He recalls an account of a girl in his school who went through a horrible experience at a national tournament. The team undertook a three-day long train journey and had to sleep on the floor without proper meals whereas boys at their national tournaments would get top-notch facilities.
Providing better resources to young girls and promoting women’s football through the project is the desired outcome for the stakeholders. A larger dream is to generate employment in the sports industry which is certainly the need of the hour in India.
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A school’s role
Indian football needs more work at the grassroots level and schools to play a vital role in this scenario. Concurring with the statement, Shiv added that schools play an essential role in encouraging them (young girls), providing resources, giving exposure through tournaments and balancing the demands of academics with extracurricular activities.
Generating an interest
One of the major tasks for any football enthusiast who aims to contribute to the sport in India is to generate interest towards it and make it more appealing. With cricket looming large over all other sports, it is a tough task. However, one can do so by gaining exposure by playing with other teams, introducing professional coaching and training, and spreading awareness about female athletes and their road to success.
Having said that, educating the parents is key. Unless they accept that football is a genuine source of income, getting their support, permission and encouragement for their daughters would be difficult.
Important to start early
A key factor in developing a generation of female footballers is to introduce them to the sport early. Shiv believes that it helps because, “building interest + skills is important from a young age, as it is more sustainable. The life skills that football imparts are very important (such as), discipline, participation, team spirit, collaboration, sportsmanship and management.”
Plan for the future
Talking about the road ahead, Shiv Mittal said, “We have already partnered with three schools, and are hoping to scale it to more schools. We are also exploring potentially collaborating with AIFF (All India Football Federation) for their new Football for Schools initiative.”
Executing a noble project like this has its own challenges. Promoting women’s football is not easy in India. Young girls who want to take up sports in general, face several obstacles. Talking about the obstacles, Mittal said, “its about lack of funding, ingrained prejudices, biases and stereotypes that women can’t play football. The prevalent belief amongst Indian parents is that sports are not a reliable source of income.”