AVAG focuses on women’s empowerment through training and capacity building, sustainable livelihood programs and social enterprise initiatives for the local women.
We wanted to go one step further towards the social empowerment and agency of the women which could even lead to future career opportunities and, hence, economic empowerment, through a program of local sports events and coaching.
Cultural limitations and traditions stop women from playing sports. They don’t normally have access to after marriage, or in some cases after attaining puberty.
The benefits of sports are endless: from having the power to bring people of different groups together to compete on a friendly platform, to helping individuals build leadership skills,as well as enhancing their self- esteem, courage and self-confidence. We realised that, whenever we organised the traditional game Kabbadi, the women would participate with a lot of enthusiasm.
Planning and Organising
The idea to host a kabaddi tournament was discussed with the Federation and they supported and loved the initiative. When communicated to the village SHGs, 31 groups of women signed in, and 24 actually participated. The referees, who were women government coaches, said that it was the first time they saw such a big number of women participating and that they could provide training for them. They selected 45 women as best players to get further coaching that will lead to regular competitions on local, district and regional level. The women chosen were jubilant, as being selected gives them recognition in their SHG and villages. From the men side, the best players had been already selected by ABSCA.
We want to be the model for the married women of our region in sports. By seeing our success more AVAG SHG members may come forward to participate in sports.
Warriors of Change
Out of the 45 women, 30 missed the training sessions, because the coaching is on Sundays, when the entire family is at home and they have to take care of them.
The other 15 women have shown an indomitable spirit by training despite the hurdles of having to wake up very early to do their household duties, go to work and travel a long distances . We provide them with breakfast to try and meet their nutritional needs.
Now for the first time, these women and men are getting to participate at the district level competition to be held in September.
In the villages, there are no role models for the women and the children so we look at these activities as empowering tools. Since sports is regarded as a field for men, women participation can begin change community norms about their roles and capacities and provide positive female role models for other women. In fact, around 20 adolescent girls from our area have shown interest to come for sports coaching also.
The women are really looking for opportunities to show their talents and get recognition!