Sports

Photo-Story: Kickstarting A Dream

The slums of Vikaspuri, on the far western outskirts of the National capital, are witnessing a silent revo­l­ution -- girls are making the football talk

Photo-Story: Kickstarting A Dream
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The slums of Vikaspuri, on the far western outskirts of the National capital, are witnessing a silent revo­l­ution. Brimming with confidence, several determined girls living in the jhu­ggi-jhopdis have chosen football to smash gender barriers. And their efforts have started yielding results.

A resident of Vikaspuri Camp Number 4, Amrita is a state-level football player. She is being trained at Sylvester Peter’s My Angels Academy. The daughter of a domestic help, Amr­­ita started playing football at the age of seven.

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The coach Arti

While her mother would run from house to house for work, she would accompany her. After a chance meeting with Peter whi­le she was begging for food outside a temple, she joined the academy for formal training. A cycle mechanic, her father passed away almost 11 years ago. From the academy in the slum, she’s now graduated to train at the Delhi Police club.

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The players Amrita doing household chores.

Besides football, she loves to cook and wants to make a second career as a chef. Her favourite football icon is Leonel Messi.

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Arti arrived in the slum with her parents after a devastating flood damaged their Bih­ar home in 2005. A college student, she is currently a D-Licence coach at Royal Ran­ger Football club. Initially, she used to play without her parents’ knowledge, as they were against the idea of football as her car­eer, and felt football is not a girls’ sport.

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Khushboo
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Her elder sister and inspiration Khushi

Khushi is a student of Class XII of a girls’ school. She is the eldest among her three siblings. She started playing football when she was 10. She has played national Under-17 and a few other matches for clubs. Cur­re­ntly, she is preparing for her board exams and Under-23 national trials.

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Khushi at the training ground

The Lionel Messi-fan wants to be a player of international repute. At 4.30 am, before going to school, she goes for training. Her younger sister Khushboo also plays football and is training for national level matches. Like scores of other female footballers of the slum, she too looks at football as a way to emancipation and ­empowerment.

(This appeared in the print edition as "Kickstarting a Dream")

Text & Photos by Tribhuvan Tiwari

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