Playing Second Fiddle

Yahoo cricket editorial blogs

It's just not sports, sexual harassment is a harsh everyday reality for any woman in India -  Mary Kom

Sports film-maker Sunil Yash Kalra is coming up with a documentary film based on the struggle and hard work by Indian women cricketers Anjum Chopra, Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj. The short film will focus on their determination to glory with the limited space that they have.

This is my tribute to Indian women cricketers. I just wanted to show an aspect of the cricketers which has never been shown before. The documentary shows that these girls, despite the omnipresent disparity in the team, play for pride not for plight, asserted Sunil Yash Kalra.

Until someone like Shah Rukh Khan comes up with a 'Chak De India'-like blockbuster, Indian women athletes are restricted to struggle in a male monopoly, playing second fiddle. We woke up to the existence of the 'Indian women's hockey team' (after Chak de) only after the high-profile sex scandal. One major factor for such treatment meted out to women sports persons is due to the lack of sponsors and media coverage.

Despite receiving almost no attention from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) bosses, women cricketers have somehow managed to survive and find a place of their own. Fact - They were only adopted by the BCCI in 2006 after ICC's pressure for development. Fact - They won the Asia Cup in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. Fact - Mithali Raj leads the ICC ODI batting rankings with 823 points much ahead of Australian Shelley Nitschke on 689. Fact - Jhulan Goswami leads the ICC ODI bowling rankings with 777 points. Fact - Rumeli Dhar completes the top-five with 698.

It is indeed very difficult for women (in sports) in this country to excel because of many archetypal conservative attitudes and other societal obstacles, lamented Saina Nehwal.

Indian badminton prodigy Saina Nehwal roared to the World No 2 position recently after an excellent run last year. After capping a dream run, the badminton sensation is all but determined to break the Chinese hegemony at the top. And yes, the endorsements followed soon after the No 2 news.

Mangte Chungneijang Merykom - woman boxer Mary Kom from Manipur is a four-time world champion. Magnificent Mary's moment of glory may be sung aloud in Manipur but many would not know her full name. The boxing queen was awarded Arjuna Award in 2003, Padmashree award in 2005 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award last year for her glorious journey in the field of boxing.

Sania Mirza in Tennis, Joshna Chinnappa and Dipika Pallikal in squash, Humpy Koneru and Tania Sachdev in chess and Karnam Malleswari in weightlifting are some of the other prominent names you might want to look out for.

The allegations of sexual misconduct notwithstanding, women athletes are faced with much bigger problems with no proper ground, training and medical treatment to start with. Saina's parents made huge financial sacrifices to see her in the place she is now.

I would often sleep on the pillion of my father's scooter. And during the course I lost many rackets, some even as costly as 10,000 rupees. On one occasion, my father went on to lodge a police complaint against the loss of racket, said Saina.

In India, the term 'sport' is mostly associated with cricket and we only tend to sharpen the focus on trouble rather than the approach towards these sportspersons. The resigned lack of attention has only contributed in poor performance of women athletes in India and given the situation, people like MK Kaushik will continue to abuse their positions unwarranted. Your say?