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Building a Volleyball Habit: A Story of Married Women and Unexpected Coaches


Several married women expressed a desire to learn volleyball and compete against other teams. We listened to their request and, leveraging our existing resources, launched a coaching program. Currently, a core group of roughly 12 women consistently attend training. The initial weeks were about establishing a foundation. Individual attention was a challenge due to varying schedules - some attended daily after work, while others joined on weekends. It was motivating to see them arriving in their workout attire, sometimes with their children cheering them on from the sidelines, even offering playful coaching from the stands.

Initially, focus was a hurdle. However, an unexpected source of motivation emerged. A seventh-grade boy observing their practice remarked, "My coach is tough when we mess up. Yours is kind of easygoing. If you don't take it more seriously, you won't improve." This simple observation proved to be a turning point, prompting the women to dial up their focus and commitment.

A friendly match was organised at our campus in April to test the skill level of our women and learn the knacks and nuances of the game from the more experienced players. Since there is no other married women's team in our bioregion, we invited two teams of school and college students from the neighbouring villages of Auroville to participate in the match. The match was beneficial for our women as they got to learn a lot from the other teams. We also realised that our women were not far behind in skills! We appealed to the players and coaches to support the women's teams in their villages, including those for married women.

Bala, a player on our team -  I am 40 years old, and had never watched a volleyball match in my lifetime. As I have to participate in the friendly match today, only yesterday, I watched the game on YouTube. I started my training four months back, and today I got a chance to play the game.  Yes, I am a proud player now.

Shiva, husband of a player - I am a volleyball player and always wanted my wife to learn the game. But as we live in a village, I thought it would never happen. But AVAG campus is a safe place for women to learn any skill. While my wife was in training, I also passed by a few times to share my skills. I am happy to see my wife playing. 

In April, our campus held a friendly volleyball match to not only assess the skills of our women's team, but also foster a spirit of learning and community. Since there are no other married women's teams nearby, we invited two student teams from Auroville’s neighbouring villages. The match was a win-win. Our women learned from the experienced players, while simultaneously demonstrating their own impressive skills. We used this opportunity to encourage the visiting players and coaches to advocate for women's volleyball teams, including those for married women, in their villages.

From Novice to Proud Player: Bala's Story

Bala, a 40-year-old member of our team, exemplifies the transformative power of our program. Having never watched volleyball before, she embraced the challenge. A quick YouTube tutorial yesterday and four months of training culminated in her participation in the match. "Yes, I am a proud player now," she declares, her voice brimming with newfound confidence.

Support at Home: Shiva's Perspective

Shiva, the husband of another player, shares his experience. "As a volleyball player myself, I always wanted my wife to join me on the court," he admits. "But living in a village, I thought it wouldn't be possible." The safe and inclusive environment of our campus provided the missing piece. "While my wife trained," he continues, "I occasionally joined to offer my own skills. Seeing her play today fills me with immense happiness."