Jharkhand government to aid tribal football girls

Ranchi/New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has announced a cash reward for the girls football team who finished third in the Gasteiz Cup, an Under-14 tournament held in Victoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

"The state government has decided to help the girls. Each member of the team will be given Rs.21,000 in cash and a football stadium will be constructed on their demand," said Hemant Soren at a press conference in Ranchi Friday.

Against all odds, a bunch of 18 under-14 girls from Ranchi won bronze at the Gasteiz Cup in Spain, July 13. The tribal girls were representing Yuwa India, an NGO founded by a 30-year-old American Franz Gastler.

Moved by the success of the Jharkhand girls, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is planning to tap talent in the country's tribal areas.

These girls were reportedly humiliated, slapped and made to sweep floors when they went to the panchayat office to get birth certificates for their passports.

AIFF president Prafel Patel said in New Delhi that the federation's women's committee headed by Sara Pilot, wife of Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot, met Thursday to discuss the issue and also make plans to help the girls from Jharkhand and also tap talent in tribal areas.

Sara Pilot is also a known social worker and her NGO, CEQUIN (Centre for Equality and Inclusion), works for the upliftment of women.

"Our women's committee have already met and we are working on a plan to help the girls and tap talent in tribal areas," said Patel, who is also union minister of heavy industries and public enterprises.

Patel said the AIFF should not be blamed for the ordeals of the girls because they never approached the federatuon for help and the tournament was also not approved by it.

"It was a malicious campaign against the AIFF and it's totally baseless to bring the AIFF into this. The tournament the girls participated was not approved by us nor we knew about their participation," Patel said.