group of seven girls of Silwala Khurd gram panchayat in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district have been selected in the state volleyball squad. The credit of their selection goes to their coach Basant Singh Maan who was determined to get the girls into the squad.

The seven selected for the under-19 national level school competition are Suman Bhambu (13), Anita Meghwal (14), Manita Bhambhu (13), Suman Gill (17), Lavpreet Kambhoj (16), Kintu Nayak (14), and Suman Nayak (15) .

All of them are students of the Government Model Senior Secondary School, Silwala Khurd. Four are in Class 10, two in Class 11 and one in Class 12. The School Games Federation of India organises the competition.

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Problems faced by the girls

Coach Basant Singh Maan said the parents were initially reluctant to send their daughters to play.

“In 2012-13, parents did not allow their daughters to participate in tournaments outside the district. I motivated them, convinced them that the girls will be safe with me as I am a native of the same village. For two-three months, I used to pick up girls from their homes and drop them back,” he said.

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The girls grappled with a lot of problems. Most of the parents are farmers and not financially sound. Lack of proper guidance is another hindrance. Thirdly, girls going out of the district isn’t considered a good thing

But it is the coach’s dogged determination that compelled parents to give in to their daughters’ wishes. Impressed by the coach and his team’s focus to achieve, the district administration has resolved to help them. They are making a ground and providing lights, changing room and water facilities.

District education officer Kuldeep Poonia said, “These players have made the village proud; they will also make the country proud in coming days. Looking at them, other girls would join sports.”

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The coach who refuses to give up

Maan served as a physical training instructor for 32 years at a government school in Sangariya town of Hanumangarh. After he was posted at Silwala Khurd in 2011, he started training girls. Every day he trains the players for three hours in the morning and evening.

Maan retired in 2014 but continued training students. In September 2017, he was appointed as a coach. Maan has produced an Olympian, 13 international and 1,500 national players from Sangariya and Silwala Khurd.

The success story of these seven girls is a testimony to the fact that entry in sports shouldn’t be gender-centric. With the passion to play and succeed, anyone can enter sports and win laurels for their country.

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Picture credit: HT

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