As sports is progressing, so are the women in it. Sports are no longer just a man’s game, women are fighting for their rights and breaking stereotypes every single day. Sports has given them an opportunity to create some sort of social impact too. Sportswomen are raising awareness about sports in villages and encouraging more and more girls to come and take part. It is a way for them to give back to the society as well as keep the spirit of sports alive.

Here are six inspiring stories from women who are trying to change the norms in the sporting world:

Shilpika Gautam
Shilpika is a banker from London who took up the challenge to paddleboard along the Ganga river to raise awareness on water pollution in Indian rivers. She travelled over 2,500 km in three months on a paddle board. Shilpika said that she, “wanted to combine the novelty of the sport with the desire to explore an imminent and serious environmental issue led to the birth of Gangessup.”

Andrea building a Hockey Village in India with her team // Pic credits: Andrea

Andrea Thumshirn
Growing up in a small town called Schwabach in Germany, Andrea took up hockey at the age of 6. After she had a major surgery, she was advised not to play hockey, so she built her own company, and in 2012 built a Hockey Village in India. She told us,

“I thought that I could create something unique and that sports would change the lives of so many children – especially girls. The joy of giving became like a drug for me and I spent all my money for the kids to make them happy.”

Fatima Bano
Fatima Bano, a wrestler from Bhopal is breaking all stereotypes for Muslim women in India. Her choice was an unthinkable one, considering her religion, orthodox family and the conservative nature of her hometown. She started off with Kabbadi but moved to wrestling soon. She is now coaching 27 students – 12 girls and 15 boys and she want to get them into the Olympic games. Fatima said in an interview, “I believe many more girls should come forward in this game. There is great scope for them to succeed and realise their potential.”

Girl Skate India // Pic credits: Virginia Fernandes

Atita Verghese
Now here’s a girl who is a very unconventional sport in India. Skateboarding is Atita’s forte. In a society where skateboarding is a sport you’ve seen on TV, it is stereotyped to be a man’s sport. That is why, in collaboration with Holystoked, Atita toured India to build skateboarding parks in villages and start Girl Skate India. It teaches boys and girls to pursue skating as a career or for fun. It is a liberating sport, those who’ve tried it will know!

Nirupama Sanjeev
Nirupama Sanjeev was the first professional tennis player from India. She won a Grand Slam round at the 1998 Australian Open. Last year, frustrated with the way sports facilities are lacking in India, she wrote an open letter to PM Modi, asking him to improve the standard of sports facilities provided to sportspersons in India.Here’s an excerpt from her letter,

“From 1991 to now, sir, one thing has not changed. Officials still believe any international competition is their free ticket abroad. Our sports minister got a stern warning from the Rio authorities when his entourage was expecting undue privileges at the venue. The physio was not even qualified to be there. Officials fly business class, leaving athletes to the economy. Other state ministers too take entourages there and are caught partying instead of supporting our athletes. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I request you to sign a directive to put a very strict system in place for officials.”

India’s Wushu Warrior – Fareeha // Pic credits: Huffington Post

A 14-year-old Muslim school girl is fighting patriarchy with her combat technique. Her school recently started teaching Chinese martial art form called Wushu. At first, her mother decided that Fareeha could not go for the classes, but since safety was a concern, she let her daughter learn Wushu. Fareeha is inspiring a generation of young girls in India to take up martial arts. In fighting patriarchy, she is also fighting for her own freedom and independence. Wushu has given her a platform to be strong and fight on as a warrior.

Pic credits: Virginia Fernandes

Also read: Bend it Like Poonam: Varanasi’s Girls Challenge Patriarchy on the Football Field