In order to highlight the initiation of the project “Sports for Girls”, Centre for Social Research (CSR) organized a “Project Launch Event” on 3rd August, at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium, Sector 42, Chandigarh. Through this launch event CSR aimed to bring together key stakeholders and participants of all targeted districts and edify them about the great opportunity to support the girl children in improving their participation in sports activities.
(In picture: L-R Mrs. Usha Rajpal with her accompanists, Mr. Saba Kareem, Mr. Balbir Singh Sr., Mr. Chris Elstoft, Mrs. Ranjana Kumari, Dr. Manasi Mishra, Mrs. Neha Chauhan, Mrs. Ritu Pathik)
To motivate the participants, Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director; CSR, Mr. Chris Elstoft, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission; Captain Karnail Singh, Director Sports, Chandigarh Administration; Mrs. Ritu Pathik, Deputy Director, Sports Authority of India, Chandigarh; Mrs. Usha Rajpal, District Sports and Youth Affair Officer (DSO), Kurukshetra were present as chief guests. And eminent sports personalities like Mr. Balbir Singh, former Olympic Hockey Player; Mr. Saba Karim, former Cricketer and BCCI Selector and Mrs. Neha Chauhan, Sub Inspector, Haryana Police and former Hockey Olympian graced the occasion to share their experiences and ignite the fire of passion in the aspiring girl children.
The host of the event Dr. Manasi Mishra, Head, Research and Knowledge Management, CSR, humbly welcomed the chief guests and audience. As an auspicious beginning, Dr. Ranjana Kumari along with all the chief guests lighted the lamp, signifying the lightening up of the path for girls in accessing education and sports facilities. In the background, was the positivity spread by the shabad sung by the students of Vivek High School, Mohali, which created a perfect atmosphere for the program commencement.
In an effort to welcome the Chief Guests and thank them for their honorable presence, Ms. Namrata Mehta and Ms. Somya Bhatia of the CSR Team presented bouquets to them. After which, Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director, CSR, welcomed everyone for their gracious presence. An eminent Social Activist, who has dedicated her life to empower women, she shared her opinions about this new project. She described “Sports as critical for empowering of girls as education as it not only develops the personality but empowers them to stand on their own feet”.
Thereafter, Dr. Manasi invited everyone for the release of posters for the project. The powerful quote on the posters, “Khel kood banaye sashaqt betiyan, betiyan banaye sashaqt desh” (Sports empowers the girls, girls empower the nation) mesmerized everyone in the hall.
To provide a deeper understanding and explain the aim of the initiative “Sports for Girls”, Dr. Manasi Mishra provided a brief of the project to the audience with the help of a presentation. She shared how CSR was chosen as the nodal agency to implement ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ in five districts of Haryana by the Ministry of Women and Child Development after the successful implementation of the project ‘Meri Shakti, Meri Beti’. This initiative of CSR, seeks to promote social and leadership aspects of changing the socio-economic value of girl children through the medium of sports.She explained the program objectives, which are to increase female student enrollment in schools, university sports programs and district level opportunities for competitive play and expose female student athletes to role models.
Following which, Mr. Chris Elstoft, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission broke the ice with light humor. He shared his opinion that girls are not dolls to be protected. Coming to the arena of sports, he informed that in Australia, participation of women in Olympics was more than men. He felt that sport is an excellent medium for girls to win, lose, compete and grow. By wishing the CSR Team good luck for the project, he concluded by adding that even if girls do not become champions, it is a great way to attain a healthy lifestyle, make friends and learn to work in groups.
Then came the moment for which the audience was eagerly waiting. The cricket champion, Mr. Saba Kareem interacted with the audience. He mentioned about the tremendous performance by the Indian Women Cricket Team at the World Cup 2017. He felt that more and more girls should come out and play. He emphasized on the importance of sensitizing the families. Lastly, he asked all the sportspersons present to motivate each other, friends and families so that more girls participate in sports.
Now it was time for the “greatest hockey player ever” to address the audience. Three time Olympic Gold Champion and a Padma Shree, Mr. Balbir Singh Sr. told that he is lucky to be born in India. He was grateful that CSR through its project will add an essential element to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao i.e. Beti Khilao (Allow girls to play). He shared a beautiful story to highlight the importance given to girl child in his family. When his first child, a girl was born, to celebrate, his father distributed sweets in the villages, at a time when girl child was not happily welcomed. He concluded by motivating the girls that each one of them is capable of being number one.
Followed by him, Mrs. Ritu Pathik, Deputy Director of Sports Authority of India, Chandigarh motivated the audience with her success story. A national champion herself, she gave the credit of it to her family. At a time when girls were restricted to household chores, her family allowed her to follow her dreams and play. She feels that sport teaches us to work hard and provides a perfect coordination of mind and body. She concluded by congratulating the CSR Team for coming up with this much needed initiative.
After charging the audience with such motivation, an orchestra was presented by the students of Government High School, Chandigarh. The sweet melodies and perfect synchronization left everyone mesmerized.
Followed by which, a Nukkad Natak (Street Play) was presented by the talented students of the same school. Their theme being, “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”, the extra-ordinary performance by the students left the audience awestruck. (Nukkad Natak)
Next was our role model for the aspiring girl children, Mrs. Neha Chauhan. A former Olympian Hockey Player, currently she is serving as a Sub-Inspector of Haryana Police. She explained how societal pressure hinders the families from allowing their daughters to pursue their dreams. Against all odds, her parents always supported and motivated her to play hockey. Hence, she felt there is a dire need for the participation of girls to increase in sports, for which, changes need to happen at home.
Lastly, Shivani and Poonam, hockey players from the Kurukshetra University shared their experiences with the audience. Both of them have been practicing together since past seven years under the guidance of their coach, Mr. Shiv Kumar Saini. They shared their happiness with the coming up of this new initiative which will benefit girls in the arena of sports. They cited their power and passion with the dialogue from the movie “Dangal”, “Marhi choria choro se kam hain ke” (Are my girls any less talented than guys). They were thankful that their team could get a chance to get encouraged by such eminent personalities at the event.
To thank everyone for taking out their precious time and add on to the event, vote of thanks was presented by Ms. Namrata Mehta and Ms. Somya Bhatia.
Through “Sports for Girls” CSR wants to address discrimination against girls and women in accessing education and sports for holistic development of their personalities and economic empowerment. CSR Team successfully achieved their agenda for the event and further aims to make this project a huge success.