Traditionally India has been a country where sports has always been treated as a secondary option when it comes to career choices for men. Women, till recently, never had the opportunity nor the access to play or practice sport, either as leisure or profession. This was surprising since legends like Milkha Singh and Dhyan Chand were born in this country. Later on female athletes like P.T. Usha and Ashwini Nachappa can be credited with the resurgence of athletics in India.
New age sportswomen like Sania Mirza in Tennis, Saina Nehwal in Badminton, Mary Kom in Boxing are the few Indian women who despite of coming from conservative backgrounds, never gave up on their dreams. This empowerment of women by encouraging them to participate in sports has opened up many new and exciting avenues in the world of sports. With role models like these, the girl child in India has someone to look up to and due to this the lower and middle class parents have dared to let their daughters and sisters pursue a sports-related profession.
While it is worth noticing that Saina Nehwal’s parents were hard pressed for money and were able to fulfill her dreams only after borrowing from relatives and friends. As parents of a girl child, their choice to put Saina on a path very few traveled, is indeed commendable and cleared the way for many “Saina’s” in the making.
In order to make a long-lasting change, encouragement of the girl-child is essential and much more needs to be done in a country like India where even today 300 women die in childbirth and pregnancy, every single day. With Indian women winning medals and championships in multiple sports across the world, people have changed their views about girls in sports. Every time Saina or Sania or Mary register a win, coaching academies and individual coaches see a spurt in enquiries and registrations from parents of a budding sportswoman.
Schools too, play an extremely crucial role in the development of its girl students as sports personalities. Today we see boys and girls in equal numbers participate in sports events and competing with and against each other without a bias. This empowerment is bound to build confidence in the female students and when they grow up into fine individuals, sports will have played a major role in bringing about the desired change in the women population of India. Women are no longer the “fairer sex” and it’s time for them to shed this tag and there is no better avenue than sports to make their mark and break-free into the limitless world of opportunities.
Although India always had their women’s cricket team and hockey team to show, they were always a poorer cousin of the men’s teams and remained neglected. Recognition in sports like Tennis, Badminton, Boxing, Shooting, Golf, Billiards etc. gave the much required fillip and Indian women have proved that they are here to stay and excel.
This empowerment has helped women deal with many a crisis and emergency situations and has given them the confidence to manage things on their own without the mandatory male support. Although it has made a bright and brisk start, the challenges for women are many and will surely bring out the best qualities of the women of India.