Australian cricketers inspired by young women in Jharkhand
March 15, 2017
Australian cricketers today visited Yuwa, an NGO based in Ranchi, Jharkhand that provides a platform through team sport for young women to gain confidence to make a change in their world.
The players took time out from their preparations for the third Test of the Qantas Tour of India, which begins on Thursday in Ranchi, to engage with some inspiring young girls who hail from Jharkhand – one of the poorest states of India, with some of the lowest rates of literacy and girls’ school attendance in the country.
In Jharkhand, 6 in 10 girls drop out of school and become child brides, and thousands of girls are trafficked each year. The girls who are part of Yuwa are rewriting their script—and it all starts with sport and education.
Teacher Sharanya Rao said:
“Being a woman is the biggest challenge that they face. Right from when they’re born they’re discriminated against.
"It’s a tradition to give out sweets in the family when a kid is born and sweets are distributed only if it’s a boy but not if it’s a girl. They face so many difficulties right from infancy because boys are given better food, better treatment. Boys’ birthdays are celebrated but girls’ are not because families are ashamed the girl is born into the family.
"Breaking out of that is the biggest challenge right now and then changing the mindset that girls can get out of the house, girls can play, can do something, that’s their biggest challenge right now. They’re working towards it and a lot of them fight every day to come to school and to come play football."
Australian players spent time in small groups hearing firsthand from the girls the challenges they have faced to get to where they are now with the help of Yuwa.
Australian spin bowler Stephen O'Keefe said:
“The guys have been able to come out and hear the girls’ stories, which have been nothing short of inspirational, and also play a bit of soccer. We’ve heard them dance, a bit of One Direction. It’s been a lot of fun and all the guys agree it’s been inspirational.”
“I think at times you can get caught up when you’re playing cricket that you think it’s the be all and end all in life. Not making runs or taking wickets is the most important thing. To be able to have these experiences out here, listen to these girls’ stories and also share some of your stories just shows cricket is more than a game. I think it transcends through ages and genders and cultures. So for us it’s important as Australian cricketers that we do that and continue to do it into the future. We’ll get more well-rounded cricketers on and off the field.”
All 81 students from the school then gathered to share their experiences in sport and how it has benefited them before engaging in some light-hearted competition between the players and the senior girls’ soccer team.
The event was managed in partnership with the Australian High Commission in India.