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The Quint Impact: TN Kabaddi Girls Win Laurels, Academy Set up

Thanks to you all, the kabaddi girls team from Koovathur, Tamil Nadu is traveling across the state winning laurels.

Updated
India
4 min read
Thanks to you all, the kabaddi girls team from Koovathur, Tamil Nadu is traveling across the state winning laurels.
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On 4 January, I received five excited voice recordings on my WhatsApp at midnight. Kabaddi coach Sathish spoke with absolute excitement that his girls have bagged third place at the tournament held in Vellore - their first win.

It is a very happy new year for the kabaddi girls team in Koovathur in Tamil Nadu who are traveling across the state, winning laurels and hearts.

To jog your memory, on 14 November, in a story titled ‘Neither Lack of Gear Nor COVID Keeps These TN Girls from Kabaddi’, we showed you the struggle of some feisty young girls from Koovathur in Tamil Nadu who are training for kabaddi despite having no funds. The girls also had to drop out of school for lack of money to pay fees.

Goodbye Worry. Hello Medals

Their kabaddi coach, 30-year-old Sathish Kumar, lost his job as a school Physical Training teacher due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was selling fish to earn a living and fund the girls’ training.

Thanks to your overwhelming support, they received over one lakh rupees. DMK MP Dr Senthilkumar from Dharmapuri offered the girls financial assistance, and bought them branded shoes and jerseys.

The girls have now competed in a series of local tournaments in Chennai, Ariyalur, and Vellore.

The kabaddi girls team after winning the third place in Vellore.
The kabaddi girls team after winning the third place in Vellore.
(Photo Courtesy: GLS Academy)
The kabaddi girls team after winning the third place in Vellore.
The kabaddi girls team after winning the third place in Vellore.
(Photo Courtesy: GLS Academy)
“Earlier, we didn’t have any money and all this seemed impossible. Now we no longer worry about the funds. Invitations to games are pouring in and we are choosing which ones to participate in. We can’t be more grateful for all the nameless people who have showered us with love and support.”
Sathish, Kabaddi Coach
The kabaddi girls team bagged the fifth place in the competition held in Chennai.
The kabaddi girls team bagged the fifth place in the competition held in Chennai.
(Photo Courtesy: GLS Academy)

“Usually when we go for matches, it ends by evening and we can return home only by midnight. Sometimes the tournaments will be in outskirts of the city or mostly in villages. In order to ensure the safety of the girls, I will hire a vehicle from our area and take them everywhere. I make sure to get the girls all meals, snacks to keep them energised as their families will not be able to afford to send nutritious food. Now, I worry not as I have help in my bank account and also knowing so many people are proud of my girls,” he told The Quint.

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‘Going to Get Used to Winning’

What is promising is that these 13-year-olds had competed in the open category against 17-year-olds and even college students.

“We competed with older akkas and still felt we were stronger than them. Not just winning, the fact that we can travel and participate is so exciting and we are already asking Sir where we are traveling next...” said an excited Narmadha, the team captain.

Twelve-year-old Mridula couldn’t stop gushing, “Akka, we won! And now we are going to get used to winning.”

“These certificates are not valid to get scholarships for education. It is purely for experience. The girls need to test their abilities and soon they will be ready to win at the zonal and state levels,” Sathish said.

GLS Academy girls on their way to Ariyalur for the match.
GLS Academy girls on their way to Ariyalur for the match.
(Photo Courtesy: GLS Academy)

In these hamlets, the girls get married at a young age of 15-16 years. Sathish wants to secure their education by training the girls well enough so that they can get a seat in a good college through sports quota, and later on, get a good job as well.

“My goal is to hold on tight to them so that they don’t get married early. In these tournaments, many coaches have assured that if the girls compete well they will sponsor their college education. The girls also feel very charged that they are also assured of studies while playing.”
Sathish, Kabaddi Coach
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Koovathur Kabaddi Academy Set up

The GLS Academy girls.
The GLS Academy girls.
(Photo Courtesy: GLS Academy)

Thanks to MP Senthilkumar’s donation, Sathish has set up a kabaddi academy so that more girls from these fishing hamlets can enrol themselves and he can train many more girls for free and empower them to become strong sportswomen.

Sathish said that after the video was published, many parents began taking more interest in what their girls did and spoke proudly about them to the boys in the villages.

Sathish has set up a kabaddi academy so that more girls from these fishing hamlets can enrol themselves.
Sathish has set up a kabaddi academy so that more girls from these fishing hamlets can enrol themselves.
(Photo Courtesy: GLS Academy)

MP Senthilkumar assured complete support and said, “It is important to encourage such native games which don’t involve much infrastructure. Also, these are seen as predominantly male-oriented games. These Koovathur girls have set an example for all those girls living in small hamlets to come out, play and succeed. There are many such girls in similar circumstances and they could also chase their dreams like these Koovathur girls,” he said.

The girls require Rs 6,000-Rs 10,000 to travel to other districts to compete. Your donation can secure their future and make a huge difference in their lives. If you wish to help, please write to us at editor@thequint.com.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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