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Yuwa: The way football making life better. 

Yuwa, A Non-governmental organization has helped improve the condition of women in Jharkhand by bringing football into their lives.

Last updated: 04.03.2019
The kids living their dream of playing football

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Amidst the beautiful scenery of forests and lakes in the elegant city of Jharkhand, more famously known as the “Land of forests”, there is a vexed state of affairs circulating the sorry situation of women in the territory. Jharkhand is placed at 32 out of the 36 States and Union territories in terms of literacy. Every 5 out of 10 girls are held back from education. The state also ranks at a disturbing position of 27 out of 30 in terms of female vulnerability in India.

Though several attempts have been made to change the situation, life has been quite demanding for women to survive in the state. Keeping aside the various problems that the little girls face throughout their lives, they are also exposed to extreme vulnerabilities at a tender age. Most of which are socially unacceptable in any other part of the world. Here, women don’t have the right to study, pursue any career but are forcefully tied to marriage at illegal ages.

The government has tried fixing the situation via various activities but most of them failed to make an impact. Although in 2009, things took a sharp turn as Yuwa, a foundation focusing on Women empowerment in Jharkhand came into existence. It was a group of four people including foreigners who took the initiative. The primary motive was to create a culture of basic education and entertainment to the girls through various activities.


When Yuwa was founded, it started with a small bunch of willing girls. Their ambition was to explore a relatively new world outside their trapped lives. The organization consisted of women who mostly lost the will to dream at a premature stage in life. The group believed in surviving daily at any cost by working in ill situations so that the least they could get in return is - the society accepting them. The children belonged from repellent backgrounds. The fathers were either a hardcore drug addict or satanic personalities trying to destroy the childhood of a kid by getting her married to uncles living a miserable life in their mid-40s.

But, life relished a positive step as Yuwa came into existence. Back here, children are instilled with a will to win and survive through difficulties. No matter what happens in life, they now have the courage to fight through it. The language being sport, specifically, the beautiful game of football, they could achieve this personality. The curriculum is developed through various practices. The primary education is about sexual harassment, good and bad touches, general knowledge, maths and life skills. Among the many formal education, the youngsters also get an opportunity to express themselves on the field - where they have a different goal in mind, and two separate goalposts trying to help them in achieving it.

Things started to fall in place when an astounding event took place. This year, Yuwa, an NGO primarily for developing girls through sport has achieved a remarkable feat since their inception. They were awarded the Laureus Sport for Good award in February, becoming the third Indian entity to bag the honour. 4 of the senior students - Hima, Nita, Radha and Kanika received the award on behalf of the entire Yuwa team in Monaco. As a wise man once said, every dark night has a beautiful morning - the ladies got presented with a chance to interact and play football with none other than Arsene Wenger, the stalwart of the footballing world. He quoted, “ They are good technically and want to play together. We used to say football is a sport played by 11 selfish individuals but they play like a team and are highly motivated."

The NGO was founded by two Americans namely, Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler. Right now, they boast a demanding number of 400+ students in their foundation. People back in Jharkhand now understand how education can change lives, that too through sporting activities. The mothers now push their female child to pursue football as a career, as they witnessed the change imposed in their little souls through the game. The girls now dream of making it big in life and achieving goals which have no set of boundaries. The senior players are provided with a chance to coach the younger players. Many of them have also taken coaching as their professional career. Now, they also go on exposure trips in foreign countries to better their game and learn from their culture.

Football has always acted as a tool to better lives. Be it from a player’s perspective or from a fan's viewpoint. It has got the power to change lives for good. Moving on, in between the tear-drops and scars, a new era has evolved in Jharkhand as football paved a path to better the lives of 450 and counting young, talented girls in the state. If this is how the sporting culture is evolving in and around the country, then yes, Sports is the need of the hour for better living.

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