Where Sarees Soar: Breaking Barriers and Claiming Victories in Auroville's Bioregion

womenempowerment_2023

A unique race unfolds in Auroville's bioregion. Forget stopwatches and podiums; these victories are measured in triumphant smiles, forged on dusty tracks and etched in defiance against age and societal norms. This is the story of our women's sports community, where victory transcends trophies and medals.

Imagine a field filled with dust swirling around a whirlwind of vibrant colors, not from gentle movements, but from the determined strides of athletes leaving their mark. Instead of flowing sarees, they wear athletic gear, each woman embodying a warrior goddess who is shaping her destiny, their eyes gleaming with unwavering determination and the quiet assurance of empowerment.

This year held special significance. Twice the triumphs echoed, as our women took on the Tamil Nadu Masters Athletic Competition, first in January 2023 and again in December. A total of 46 women, aged 31 to 82, stepped onto the field, ready to conquer. From sprints and walks to discus throws and long jumps, they showcased their unwavering spirit. On the ground, their opponents are women police, sports teachers, and even district, state, and national level champions. Yet, despite limited training, these rural women, all married with children, secured an impressive haul of gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Married women pursuing sports, especially outside the home, is not common. Convincing families to allow them to participate, train, and even travel for competitions was a significant challenge. Yet, they persevered, finding support from families, communities, and within each other. The experience gained in January empowered them to return in December, with 20 women securing 25 additional medals.

Meet Ponni, a veteran of two state-level meets, her medals glittering like constellations in her infectious enthusiasm. “Whether we win or lose, she says, we need to give our full commitment, and with my singing and communication skills, I'm always a crowd-puller!”.

Her journey is a testament to the joy of pushing boundaries, both physical and societal.

Then there's Sathya, whose medal at the last meet wasn't just a personal triumph, but a quiet revolution within her community. Her husband, once hesitant, now cheers her on from the sidelines, a symbol of shifting sands in the patriarchal landscape. Sathya's story is a whispered promise of a future where women not only compete, but conquer.

And let's not forget Meena, a 26-year-old dreamer, who refuses to be limited by age restrictions. Although state-level meets are out of reach, she remains determined. "There are many young women like me," she says, "who yearn to compete and fly. We need opportunities to hone our skills and reach our full potential."

These are just a few brushstrokes in the vibrant portrait of our womens’ sports community. Here, victories take many forms: the camaraderie forged on dusty tracks, the quiet strength found in defying expectations, and the unyielding spirit that refuses to be confined by societal kitchens. They see sports as a bridge to self-empowerment, painting a future where women not only compete but lead the charge. Our vision goes beyond the thrill of competition. Our efforts in promoting sports at the school level and for young women within the Bioregion are already bearing fruit, with victories in volleyball, kabaddi, and basketball echoing across state-level competitions.

So, let us raise a toast to the women of Auroville Bioregion, who are not just running races, but rewriting narratives. They are the sprinters shattering stereotypes, the long-jumpers defying limitations, and the marathon runners of change, proving that the finish line of their dreams lies not in a distant stadium, but within the boundless potential of their hearts.


written by Nadia Akcadurak