Last year, Indian sports had witnessed some of the greatest moments in the sporting fields which involves a lot of women athletes achieving greater heights.
On the eve of International Women’s Day 2022, our Blue Tigresses spoke about women’s empowerment in depth and stressed on why it is necessary in today’s generation.
They believe that sports is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.
Blue Tigresses captain Ashalata Devi said, “We are no less than any men and from the bottom of my heart I would like to say that we are multi-talented. So anyone looks down upon you or says wrong, you just have to work hard. They can give you a good or bad opinion but you need to focus on your dream by putting in a lot of handwork and dedication and keep on moving forward. We, the women are built different, but we can very much achieve what men can, and maybe more. In order to move forward, we need to be one and respect each other.”
Custodian Aditi Chauhan described how women in India go through a number of societal barriers, which make them tougher.
“Women in India have gone through so much trying to achieve something or excel at something. They face society with all kinds of challenges, on different fronts. Not just from society, but even within their sport as well and within their families which really makes them so strong mentally as well as physically,” Blue Tigresses custodian Aditi Chauhan said during the panel discussion.
“I think mental toughness is something that we as Indian women are strong at and that is one of the reasons why I say that especially for India women, if they really set their target, they don’t mind facing anything because we’ve been through everything, faced everything, and come out on the other side to excel, so there is nothing we can’t get through,” she continued.
“We’ve seen in the Olympics how incredibly our women’s team (hockey) have performed. Obviously, we’ve got P.V. Sindhu as well who’s leading from the front and she set new heights, and is a leading example of how much or how far women can achieve at the International level,” Chauhan said.
The recent Olympic games 2021 saw ground breaking performances from our Indian athletes which motivated our Blue Tigresses in their preparations and they believe that the way society now looks upon women athletes has changed.
“It is changing now since everybody has seen the growth of the Indian women’s football team and even in the last Olympics, we saw how many women athletes have come out and they have performed the way they have and they have been making the nations proud so there is so much of added support for women who want to come out and pursue sports now. I feel like there is global recognition”, Dalima Chhibber mentioned.
She continued, “Now, if I go back to my school, I see young children who want to start playing sports who want to be like Mary Kom who want to be like P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, who want to be like me, they want to take up football or they want to be like Dutee Chand, they want to compete out on the track so I feel like it is changing and it’s growing more and more over the years”.
Bala Devi, the first Indian Woman footballer to sign a professional contract with a European club, when she was signed by Rangers Women FC in 2020, also believes that the younger generation should focus more on themselves rather than concentrating on people’s opinions.
“My family supported me throughout but pressure from society was always there. They used to ask, “why are girls playing? What is the benefit of that?”
“My parents and I had to hear this a lot but we never answered back. When I went to play in the U-19 National Championship in 2002, Manipur became the champions and I received the best scorer award, and that is when people stopped asking questions and started supporting me,” she said.
“For all the youngsters do focus on what you love and want to achieve. If I would have listened to the comments of the people out there, I would not have moved ahead in my life. So, follow the same and remember that we are no less than anyone,” Bala averred.
On being asked to give out a message to the girls Dalima said, “Go out there do your thing, believe in yourself and it’s all going to eventually work itself out. It always takes one person to stand up and to bring about the change and it’s a process that takes time, but when that change happens it’s just another feeling you cannot put into words.”
Chauhan elaborated on a point that was earlier made by Ashalata Devi. “Women are built differently. We are different from men, much stronger and we are more special than men in every aspect .We face a lot of things while growing up in a society that makes us very strong. We are stronger than what people expect out of us, we are stronger than what we are told or believe. We are stronger both mentally and physically to achieve anything that we set our mind to. We have the responsibility to stand up for what is right, to question, to speak our mind, to choose our career, to choose whatever we want to do.”