I couldn’t believe myself when I read this article and for an obvious reason ended up searching for more information on YUWA the Superstars
A team of 18 teenage girls from a rural village of Jharkhand , India have stunned everybody by securing third position in Gasteiz Cup held in Spain. In another event earlier during the Donosti Cup, Spain’s biggest football tournament, the girls made it to the quarter-finals from among 36 international teams.
Team YUWA? Who are these girls? How come soccer in an Indian village? How did they qualify in Spain? – These questions were spinning in my head too.
Two weeks back a group of teenage girls from a village on the outskirts of Ranchi in Jharkhand achieved something that sportspersons with the best facilities and support in cities often aspire to but don’t always succeed.
The Man behind this achievement is a 30 year-old American Mr.Franz Gastler. He started an NGO Yuwa-India ( yuwa-india.org ) which made these young girls to dream and successes – A larger than life achievement.
Being aware of the present conditions in tribal India, stimulating such interest in rural communities and inspiring them to compete with international teams on a global platform is remarkable.
One can visit yuwa-india.org and find out many more interesting narrations by Franz himself where he explains the challenges in coaching his teams in a typical rural village context.
United together with an unstinted spirit the girls enjoyed playing football and scoring big signing there team song
Yuwa yuwa hum hai yuwa, sab se juda ( We are Young, so special )
gendwa ko maarei, netwa ko phaade ( we are on the ball, we attack the net )
mil ke bolo Jai Yuwa ( All Hail Yuwa )
Post glory the young footballers wearing red and white sarees and sneakers, plastic flowers adorning their hair and around their wrists, were ecstatic as they lifted the third prize in Gasteiz, Spain that Saturday night.
Below are few experiences and hard facts shared by girls they wrestled while practising football and participating in this tournament it details the path Franz had to go through to realize his dream.
“We had carried sarna sarees in our bags and some flowers too. When they announced our names we ran into the dressing room and took just five minutes to get dressed in our sarees, then we came out and accepted the prize and then we danced,” grinned Rinky Kumari, 13, the team’s captain back in Ormanjhi.
“They were cheered everywhere they went. They would break into song and dance always even doing the jhumar (traditional dance) with a team from Spain at San Sebastian. The only time I saw them nervous was the first game,” recounted Sandeep Chhetri, Yuwa’s secretary and the team unofficial songwriter.
Shivani Toppo, 12, who has played football since Franz Gastler, a 30-year-old American, founded Yuwa-India in this Jharkhand village in 2009 and was among the two girls from Yuwa who had toured with India’s under-14 team in Sri Lanka last year, explains her interest in the game.
“It keeps me healthy. If I stay home I do not feel good. Also, Franz sir got all of us to go to good schools. He helped my family pay the school fee and now the school has waived the fee off,” says the team’s second defender.
Shivani’s family lives in a kutcha house in Hutup not far from the football field. On her way home after the two-hour practice session everyday, neighbours would pass rude remarks, Shivani recalls.
“They would say, why do you walk around in half-pants like boys. They would tell my parents that Franz will sell your daughter. My father died last year but I remember he would tell me that I should give it back to these people. So I told them I eat food that my parents cook for me before playing. I take nothing that is yours.”
Courtesy © The Hindu, Times of India.