Playing for keeps: Story of young sportswomen of Nepal
KATHMANDU, March 5: “A sportswoman faces difficulties, but in spite of that she needs to get up and try harder,” says Jamuna Gurung. The 28-year-old Center Forward in the APF Women’s Football Team loves being a football player, and says it has brought her immense joy. Introduced to the game by her brother, Jamuna has been playing football since she was 15-years-old and despite the fact that she’s currently being treated for an injury, she talks lovingly of the game.
Similarly, Ayasha Shakya glows when talking about taekwondo. Ayasha, 25, has brought back many medals from international tournaments like the 11th South Asian Games held in Bangladesh and the 6th Korea Open Int’l TKD Championship.
17-years-old Ramila Tandukar is looking forward to playing in an international volleyball tournament. The 11th grader of Edmark Academy, she loves going to different places all over the country for national matches and recounts with childlike glee about prizes during those games. “It’s such an encouragement,” she says.
Women’s martial arts, football and cricket are doing well at present. Sanjib Mishra, sports analyst, says that the field of martial arts has been very active and has been sending its players to international tournaments. Football and cricket are also doing very well, and with the APF offering contracts and jobs to the players, things are looking good for women in sports.
From R—L: Ayasha Shakya, National Taekwondo Player, and Ramila Tandukar, National Volleyball Player.
The biggest problem for a professional sportswoman, however, is her family and the society, according to him. “She needs to have their support if she wants to continue with her career. Next is the problem of marriage. Just when she is in her prime stage, professionally, her family might want her to get married after which she requires permission from her new family. The other problem she goes through is the lack of proper dressing rooms and toilets. It’s time the sports organization started taking it seriously,” he opines.
To invite more women in sports, the infrastructure must be developed as should the training facilities opine these women. Ayasha says, “It’s important that our coaches be updated as the years pass. There are better ways to train, as we learn from our international trainings. If we inculcate these during the regular trainings at home, our skills will surely develop.”
The captain of the national women’s cricket team, Rubina Chettri, also has the same stand. Regular training of the whole team would only benefit their game play, she says. “Also, there should be more league matches. Right now, we go through rigorous trainings only before a big game. We will reach perfection only with more practice,” she states.
Rubina ticks off commitment, discipline, dedication and passion as the four most important things for any sportsperson. “I am satisfied with where cricket is right now. The pay is much better these days. I believe the cricket organization is doing their best for us and because of their efforts, young players can get encouraged to join the game,” she shares. Rubina states that there are more opportunities in women’s cricket as they can participate in international games quicker than their male counterparts.
Photos: Republica The National Women’s Cricket Team during one of their trainings.
There’s no gender partiality in taekwondo, says Ayasha. “Our coaches don’t believe in partiality. We are frequently partnered with male player during practice and when we are sparring with them, there’s no hint of male condescension from their side. They take us as opponents. In fact, I believe that fighting them enhances my endurance capability. If I can stand against their strength then I can fight any woman,” she laughs. Ayasha also works as an assistant coach at the National Sports Council and would love to see more women in sports.
Children can explore their potential and skill more seriously if schools introduce sports as a mandatory subject. A good coach can work wonders, as proved by Ramila who speaks fondly of her school principal and coach, Kumar Rai. Rai’s passion and his teaching methods was what made volleyball dearer to her. Providing scholarships to gifted children will be an incentive for both children and parents. With studies to challenge the mind and sports to make them healthy, schools can finally present a complete education package. As children grow up, they can decide to take their interest forward and step into the world of professional sport