‘Adversity.’ The Oxford Dictionary describes it as ‘a difficult or unpleasant situation,’ while Cambridge Dictionary describes it as ‘a difficult or unlucky situation or event.’ Closer home, players of the Tamil Nadu Senior Women’s Football Team have experienced adversity like the back of their hands.
From lives devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to the troughs of poverty; daily battles for survival to a hand to mouth model of sustenance — they have been through it all.
December 26, 2004, is a day that anyone in the know how would never ever forget and for many others a day that they would always like to forget. Lives were destroyed, families were torn apart. The death and destruction across Indonesia, Thailand and the Bay of Bengal region was insurmountable.
But from that day of ruins rose three phoenixes – Indumathi, Vinitha and Saranya — three names who are now synonymous with the Tamil Nadu women’s team, who started as underdogs and ran past all to be crowned Champions in the recently concluded National Women’s Championship in Cuttack last month.
The trio, all of them from a family of fishermen, turned orphans as they helplessly saw their parents and others enveloped by the Sea. But they survived.
Indumathi, the spearhead of the team, wowed the audience with her skills in Cuttack. Be it creating the decisive pass or pulling out the deadly finish. She was always there to deliver.
Vinitha on the other hand was the rock of the Tamil Nadu side. She stood tall and stonewalled almost every attempt made at her goal. Her assured presence had a cascading effect, as the team knew it could drive forward with ease towards the goal. Meanwhile, Saranya was ever ready to come on and shore up the defence whenever the team needed her.
A leader who galvanises the team, an inspirational figure who keeps the team calm and an apt player who is prepared to rise to the occasion. qualities you would find in any modern woman. And that is what makes the Tamil Nadu team a perfect champion of womanhood.
The others too are nowhere less than the three afore mentioned compatriots. Daughters of daily wage labourers and farmers, they have toiled long and hard to reach their current level. With support from their parents, who can easily be termed as forward and progressive for giving their girls an equal footing to reach their dreams.
And not just football, the girls have gone ahead and to achieve some more. While Indumathi, Vinitha and Saranya are Sub-Inspectors in the Tamil Nadu State Police, Captain Nandini is doing her Graduation in Physical Education. Meanwhile, Indhrani and Geethanjali are working in private firms. To put it simply, they have excelled in whatever they have put their heart into.
As the great American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou had famously said: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style,” the girls from Tamil Nadu have done the same.