Sport has the power to change the world. From kho-kho and kabaddi to soccer and cricket, sport is an inclusive way to empower. Not only does sport unite players, but it also unites people and believers. However, what does need to change is the unequal male-female ratio of sport participation, the unequal pay and the very real need for women’s sporting events to get as much attention as men’s events. Nandita Anand, a 17-year-old filmmaker who is set to trigger this change. Born and brought up in Mumbai, she is currently pursuing the IBDP program at Hill Spring International School in Bombay. While she is no more an athlete now, Nandita used to be a state level sprinter and ran 100m and 200m back in her school days. Her short film, Ready Set Girl is making a pertinent point of how women athletes go through similar grueling training and competition as men do when it comes to becoming medal winners in any sport. Nandita spoke to SheThePeople about why she chose to make this film on women and sport, and what the reactions to this have been.

What inspired you to make this film?

The fact that athletics has always been a big part of my life and something I’ve always cared about a lot. I used to be a state level athlete for several years but quit for various reasons. So this sport has always meant a lot to me and I am still extremely passionate about sports so if I were to make a film on anything, it would have to be athletes.”

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Tell us more about the making of the film. What was the process like?

Well, when I first came up with the idea, I told my best friend (who features in the film a lot) because she is also an athlete. Then I worked on a rough script/outline and various logistics such as renting a camera and coordinating with the various athletes and their busy schedules to find a day we could all meet to shoot it. After filming and collecting all the footage that I needed, I had to wait till my summer vacations, so that I had more time at hand and then started the editing process. I watched the clips over and over again till I thought they looked good together. There was a point where I had finished half of it and the entire thing got deleted and after much panic, I found a backup.

Hopefully, this will inspire other young girls to do the same. I also wanted to show the attitude that India still has towards women in sports in order to trigger a change.

What has the response been like since the release and how do you feel about it?

So far the responses have been primarily positive and I have never had a video on my channel do this well this fast and that makes me very excited for the content that I will put out in the future.

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Your film begins with the girls sharing the criticism they have received for choosing sports and disregarding social norms. What inspired you to incorporate this idea in your film?

By incorporating the criticism these girls faced for choosing sports I wanted to show their passion for something at such a young age. Hopefully, this will inspire other young girls to do the same. I also wanted to show the attitude that India still has towards women in sports in order to trigger a change.

Minakshi Shekhar, a 32-year-old athlete revealed that the only difference between men and women’s sports is that “Men’s sports have more events and participants.” What do you think could be a reason for that?

I think men’s sports have more participants than women’s sports because boys are generally encouraged more to pursue sports. Girls are encouraged only till a certain age and after hitting puberty, more than half of the girls drop out of sports for various reasons, whether it is because of their families, studies or even because of terrible conditions of toilets at athletic meets, that just does not create a welcoming environment for women athletes.

What according to you are the major challenges faced by women athletes?

One of the major challenges faced by women athletes I feel is the wage gap with male athletes for sure. A female football player gets paid for example 1 million dollars a year, as compared to a male player who gets paid 20 million dollars a year, even though both individuals work as hard to get to that level.

Girls are encouraged to pursue sports, but only till a certain age and after hitting puberty, more than half of the girls drop out of sports for various reasons.

I think this happens because people generally choose to watch men’s edition of a sport over that of women. Perhaps that’s because they think the male players are just better or the game is more interesting when played by men or they just simply are not aware that there are women’s games of the same sport. Because men’s sports have a larger audience, they make more money and so they can pay their players more. This is something we need to change.

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Another issue that I feel women athletes face, especially in India, are the toilets. The toilets at athletic meets are just unusable. They do not have stalls or any facilities and are always filthy. This can prove to be extremely difficult especially when a girl is on her period and it becomes impossible for her to even compete at that meet. This is mostly because the grounds for the meets usually don’t have much money to make and maintain bathroom facilities.

What changes would you like to see in the current scenario of women’s sports?

Something I would like to change in the current scenario of women’s sports is the attitude of teenagers towards it. A lot of young boys take it as a joke and that’s something I hope to change through my film.

Another thing I hope changes soon is the state of the bathrooms at athletic meets. Hopefully, with more participants and more funding, this issue can be fixed.

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How do you think can we encourage people to be more accepting of female athletes and increase the viewership?

Through films like mine, hopefully, we can make people understand what it’s like being a female athlete and teach them to be more accepting. That would also encourage more women to take up athletics and with more space to information about female sports, the viewership will also go up.

Something I would like to change in the current scenario of women’s sports is the attitude of teenagers towards it. A lot of young boys take it as a joke and that’s something I hope to change through my film.

Share your filmmaking experience with us

Film making is something I kind of just stumbled into actually. I started making random travel videos and I kind of figured out the editing software by fiddling with the various commands or googling things. Then as I made more videos I got a lot more interested in it and it helps a lot that I have had a very ‘artistic’ upbringing.

Given film-making is a massively male-dominated field, what drove you to enter this field?

As I said before I think I kind of entered the field by accident and then fell in love with what I was doing. My family is quite creative and we’ve always been encouraged to pursue any form of art and this just happened to be another form that I decided to try out.

What is the one advice you would like to give to young girls who want to pursue sports in the future?

Being a young girl myself not sure if I’m qualified to give them advice. But one thing I’d like to tell other young girls is that if sports is something that really makes you happy, then don’t let anything stop you from pursuing it.

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Snigdha Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.

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