India and rugby are rarely bunched together in one sentence. But from next week, you will probably read/hear a lot about it, thanks to 12 young women who have demonstrated continuous improvement in the last few years and are now set to represent India in rugby 7s at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
From small villages in far-flung areas to the international arena, this has been an extraordinary journey for these young women. Let me give you a glimpse.
KEEP QUIET AND CARRY ON
Hupi Majhi, one of the senior players in the team, comes from a small village Dhatika in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. Until 2src17, hardly anyone knew that she played rugby. Why? Because she did not tell anyone. Her parents were against it.
In her village, women aren’t allowed to play any form of outdoor sport. Or wear shorts. Growing up, she was only allowed to go to school as a kind of outdoor activity. Sport was out of the question. But Majhi quietly pursued her passion.
“The problem arose when we finished runner-up in the Asia Rugby Women’s 7s tournament in Laos,” Majhi said. “When returned, the local papers published my pictures. That’s when the secret got out. I went home for a break and my parents were shocked to know that I was a rugby player.”
Money came to her rescue.
“The Odisha government announced a reward of a few lakh rupees for each one of us. In our family no one had ever heard of that kind of money. When the money was transferred to our accounts and I handed over the money to my parents, they were stunned. It was not something they had ever imagined. Things changed after th
…. to be continued
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