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Goal of goals for the girls

Abdul Gani
Most of them have not heard of David Beckham or Ronaldo but they have the desire to do something as a bunch of young girls in a rural area of Rani, a village some 25 kilometres from the Guwahati city, northeast India, walk or cycle miles to their way to learn the a b c of soccer at the playground of Rani High School under the guidance of noted football coach Hem Das.

Hem Das, who has been involved with football coaching for the last 40 years, headed for the rural area in search of talents as he believes that rural youths are more suitable for soccer for their strong build, but when he failed gather sufficient number of boys he decided to train girls of that area.

And to his utter surprise, the 40-odd girls came to him to horn their skills in football though they were alien to this game. It happened in the month of October last year and since then there is no looking back for them and for the coach. Das was so moved by the positive gesture of the girls that he decided to provide training to the rural girls free of costs.

“It's very encouraging that the girls have come forward and their parents too have been supportive though they are not financially sound. Their school teachers also helped in getting me the field to train the girls,” said Das who was selected twice in the national camp during his hey days during mid 1970s.

“When they will be able to play the game with elegance that would be my reward I do not need money. Football is my hobby and it has been an integral part of my life over the years. Teaching the youths the skill of the game gives me immense pleasure,” said Das, the founder of Guwahati young star club, who travels more than 25 kilometers everyday from the city train the girls.

The girls who study at the Rani High Schools walk or cycle their way to the ground from four to five kilometers from the nearby areas are enthusiastic with their mission and have dream of performing big.

“I want to play good football outside and bring glory to my village. Our sir has been very helpful towards us and till now we have learnt a lot about the game. I have won medals during our schools games competition in athletics so I'm hopeful that I would be able to play soccer too,” said a girl of the camp who expressed her ignorance when asked about David Beckham. She even has not seen any football match live as her family does not have cable TV.

Though most of them belong to poor families, the parents are concerned with their kids plying the game and encouraged them in the possible manner. Mohan Mali, father of Kalpana Mali, a girl in the coaching centre, often comes to the ground and sits by the side and watches the proceedings of the afternoon.

“I have especial interest in sports as I myself got a job only because I played football. So, I want my kids to play the game as well as continuing the study,” said Mali who also sends his son to the city to attend another coaching session conducted by Hem Das.   March 2011