Hisar, September 19
Alakhpura village of Bhiwani district has emerged as the powerhouse of Haryana’s women football as two teams from the village are slugging it out for the state in national events. Almost all girls hailing from this dusty village belong to families of farmers and labourers.
Lifted Subroto Cup twice
Both national events are being held simultaneously so we have no option but to divide the players into two teams. I am hopeful that they will be successful in both events. We have won Subroto Cup twice.
Sonika Bijarania, Coach
While Government Girls Senior Secondary School of the village is representing the state in Subroto Cup (under 17), 10 girls from the village, who are part of the Haryana football team in the same category, and mostly from the school, are vying for the national football event being held at Bhubaneswar in Odisha. Besides Alakhpura, girls from Hisar, Jhajjar and Sonepat districts are also part of the state team.
Sonika Bijarania, coach at Alakhpura, said both national events were being held simultaneously, so they have no option but to divide the players into two teams. “I am hopeful that the girls will be successful in both events. We won Subroto Cup twice — in 2015 and 2016.”
They had set their target on the Junior Girls’ National Football Championship 2023-24 being organised by the All India Football Federation, she said. “Both events are kicking off tomorrow — one in Delhi and another in Bhubaneswar. We have tried to give a better team to the national football championship as we are yet to win this tournament. Haryana was runner-up a couple of years ago. It is our dream to win this event,” she remarked.
Both teams are captained by Alakhpura players. While Manisha, daughter of a MNREGA worker, is heading the Subroto Cup team, Sweta Jakhar, daughter of a small farmer, is leading the Haryana team in the national event. Sweta’s father Surender said the village was proud of the girls’ achievements. “It started about 14 years ago, when the girls started practising in a ground near the village pond. Initially, there were some inhibitions, but now the entire village is supportive of them,” he said.
The coach said the government had set up three nurseries for girls’ football in the village. “Though we lack standard stadiums and other equipment, the girls are leaving no stone unturned to make their mark in national and international events,” she said, adding that their prime objective was to land a job on the basis of sports achievements. “I hope that this mindset will gradually change and they are able to take up sports as a career.”
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