Former Indian footballer Shanta Dhara used to work at a local fish market to fend for herself after retiring from the sport. She has finally been given a government job to tide over the financial challenges she was facing.

Besides struggling to make ends meet, this footballer from Bengal was also assaulted by her landlord two years back because of her inability to pay the rent.

Dhara’s life got better after receiving a financial assistance of Rs 50,000 from an organisation named Karukta during an event in March. During the same event, former Indian footballer Subrata Bhattacharya pleaded to the authorities and the All India Football Federation to take some concrete steps to improve Dhara’s financial condition. Following his plea, minister Arup Biswas assured her a job.

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Dhara has a string of achievements to her credit. She was the goal-scorer in the first ever women’s football derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, held in 2001.

She was also a part of the senior national team and Bengal’s state team. Her life, however, took a drastic turn post her retirement. She ran from pillar to post hunting for a job. When nothing worked out, she started selling fish in the local Howrah market, which she has been doing since the last five years.

While we encourage more and more women to dream of making a glorious career in sports, it is important for the authorities to look after their well-being after their retirement. While Dhara is fortunate to have received a job letter, there are an umpteen woman sportspersons living in abject poverty, toiling to keep themselves afloat.

For India to witness a surge in its women players across different sports, a lot needs to be done in the direction of keeping their dignity intact long after they move away from the limelight.

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