After a long break from December to March the Yuwa Girls Football Program finally started again with full power. The two new coaches Kalawak (17) and Anita (18), both village girls from the Yuwa program in Jharkhand have started to give daily training sessions on March, 19th.
There are some good news and some bad news. We start with the bad news: for one entire month the Yuwa Dharavi Girls Football Program had to take a break because we had a shortfall of coaches. The initial coaches Anand and Hiralal as well as the assistant coaches had to go back to Jharkhand. Reality Gives found it very difficult to find new skilled coaches who will accept the commitment to daily training sessions.
But now with the help of another great NGO, the Oscar foundation we have found a new coach and the training has started last Monday, the 14th of January for the 20 regular participants. The goal for the next months is the first match against another team and to recruit more girls. With the commitment and enthusiasm of the girls and the new coach we are very positive to report you better results in the next report.
Now the good news: although the footbll training wasn't happening we still kept the girls busy with a very unique project we haven't done before: a drama workshop. As part of the BMW Guggenheim Lab eight girls performed a play in front of a big audience at Guggenheim Lab stage at Mahim Beach. They created the piece with the help of the director Pramod Pathak during a 15 Day workshop. The aim was to give them a chance to explain their perspectives on life in Dharavi so the director spend some days just to talk and listen to the girls. Their play was about the daily issues and hopes of the girls. It contained a father beating a mother and not allowing the daughter to study but also about receiving finally respect and freedom. The girls were especially proud of their self-created dance performances.
Last Saturday, the 12th January the girls even performed a second time in front of a even bigger audience at the TedXMasala event in Powai. The team of Reality Gives and Yuwa is very proud of the smart and talented girls and how they handeled the big crowd observing them.
But now it's time to get back to football as the girls are already very excited to play again. Pooja, Kristina, Mahalakshmi and Mansi will also participate in the Mumbai Marathon on the 20th of January. Before that the whole team will host a training session for all runners of the "Dharavi Dream Run Team". Find out more on our website: www.realitygives.org/dharavi_dream_run_team. To see photos of the event itself please stay tuned on Facebook.
The Dharavi Girls Football Proram started with around 20 girls who came to the public ground every day during their holidays in May. Now the average monthly attendance come down to 15. Since in September a lot of religious festivals are taking place, less kids showed up to the training regularly. However, in the same month, 11 girls attended 20 or more practices out of 26. Therefore the average attendance of 12.6 is a good result, compared to other program attendance records of Reality Gives.
During the heavy rain season from June to September, it was very difficult to conduct the training since the ground was flooded and very slippery. Any effort to fill the holes with sand seemed to be without sustainable success. Nonetheless, the girls wanted to play. They chose a small part of the ground that was still in good condition and took good care of the balls.
During this period Reality Gives and Yuwa didn’t recruit more girls and organized tournaments, as the playing conditions didn’t allow a development of the program. Currently the Reality Gives team tried to recruit more girls with the help of existing players. The first tournament is planned for January. Our new fundraising partner - the French Sports Retailer Decathlon- offered the playground in front of the store to conduct competition events. Furthermore the US-American General Consulate in Mumbai would like to host matches as well.
The current coaches are Hiralal (24), Neelam (17) and Soni (18) who are from Jharkhand where the Yuwa program started, substituting the coaches Anand (23), Meena (15) and Sunita (16) who coached the girls in the first three months. All three of them joined the Reality Gives Youth Empowerment Program this month. For three and a half months they will improve their English, Computer and Soft Skills to prepare for further studies. “I’m happy I got the chance to come to Mumbai to teach the girls of Dharavi. They are very motivated and very enthusiastic, which is different from the girls in Jharkhand. Also I like to get the chance to improve my personal skills!” says Hiralal.
One rule of the program means that the girls have to participate in the program for four months with a minimum attendance of 20 days. So the majority of the team got new shoes, socks and shorts at the beginning of August. It became an additional motivation for the other girls to attend regularly. Furthermore the team received new footballs and other training material like cones.
Reality Gives and Yuwa will try to address several problems over the next months like lack of space and little team spirit due to different religions and casts amongst the team players. Although it will be difficult to improve the space issue, we will hopefully increase the motivation and solidarity within the team by arranging tournaments and visits of professional football players. In June 2012 former french football player and world cup winner Frank Le Boeuf visted the girls. You can watch videos of the event on www.realitygives.org/yuwa. In January 2013 the professional women’s players Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson will come to Dharavi for a training session with the girls.
It’s been three months since the launch of the Dharavi girls’ football team. Despite the challenges that the rains of monsoon season bring, our 3 coaches and 20 players come out to practice every single day of the week—even if it means getting a little wet and muddy! Practice is a time for the girls to run, unleash their pent up energy from the school day, and socialize with their newfound group of friends. They have become noticeably more confident with their football skills: they call to one another to receive the ball and love to practice heading passes. We at Reality Gives have been impressed by both the enthusiasm and commitment of these young players.
Mansi, a ten-year-old who especially loves playing goalkeeper, is one of the team’s most dedicated players. She used to attend another football program, but she had to stop going because it was too far away to attend practice regularly. Without a scheduled activity, her hours after school were spent confined in the house with her parents and brother. It was especially exciting news for Mansi that there was going to be a new, all-girls football team right here in her own neighborhood. She met a whole new group of girls, whom she now considers her friends. She never misses a practice and dreams of someday playing on India’s national women’s team. When asked about the team’s impact on her daughter, Manci’s mother explains that the Dharavi team has made her more confident in all aspects of her life: “She used to be insecure, now she talks to everyone. Even in school, teachers have noticed that she is more studious and active… In one of her classes, she is only one who gives the answers!”
We are deeply grateful for several remarkable ambassadors who have raised both funds and enthusiasm for the Dharavi team. A group of 13 boys who play on a football team in Ottawa decided to host a massive garage sale to show their support for the Dharavi girls, raising an notable $450. Emily from the UK competed in the Half Ironman triathlon on Exmoor, which has a reputation as the ‘toughest Half Ironman in the world’, on June 17th—She chose to raise funds for the Dharavi team in the process. Near the end of June, former Football World Cup champion Frank Leboeuf held a personalized football clinic for the girls on their home turf. It was an exciting day for everyone, and the girls’ practice gathered a large crowd of curious spectators.
As the team grows, coaches Anand (22), Meena (15), and Sunita (17) have high hopes for its future. With the money raised, they would like to ensure that the girls have proper shoes—so that they can protect themselves from the rocky field ground and start learning high shots. We have also outlined a plan for recruitment and expansion so that more Dharavi girls may benefit from the opportunity of playing on a sports team. Sunita is all smiles when she says that she wants to see Dharavi become a truly competitive team.
Thank you for your continued support of the Dharavi girls’ football team!
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