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Last month, 18 tribal girls from a sleepy, nondescript village of Jharkhand made it to the third spot in Gasteiz Cup, a renowned testing ground for under-14 football in Victoria Gasteiz in northern Spain, also touted as the “European Green Capital”. They not only brought laurels to the state and the country but also achieved something which most sportspersons, and that too with the best of facilities and support, often wish for but seldom succeed.
Best of all, the girls managed to break the proverbial glass ceiling in an arena and in a country that has always been associated with a few names like Saina Nehwal (badminton) and Sania Mirza (lawn tennis). In a game like football, where the national men’s team finds itself nowhere close to the clubs in the US or Europe, the teens from Jharkhand showed that the sporting success trajectory in India is slowly but stealthily tilting towards the fairer sex. Here’s a rundown on some of the Indian women who have carved a niche for themselves in their respective field of sports in the not-so-distant past.
The young guns
Last week, the Indian trio of Bombayala Devi, Deepika Kumari and Rimil Buriuly won back-to-back World Cup titles beating the formidable South Korea in the women’s recurve team final in Poland. It was a big achievement for the Indians after the Koreans—Yun Ok-Hee, Ki Bo Bae, and Joo Hyun Jung—had stormed into the finals beating several archery behemoths like the US, Italy and Russia. It's a matter of shame, though, that the Indian trio had to face disappointment on their return journey. Let alone a grand welcome, there wasn’t a single senior Archery Association of India official at the New Delhi airport to receive them. Deepika, who had to witness a lot of financial constraints during her formative years as her father was an auto-rickshaw driver and mother a nurse, allegedly broke down into tears seeing the apathetic reception.
The ‘face’ of women squash
Indian squash star Dipika Pallikal won the sixth WSA title of her career after outplaying Joey Chan of Hong Kong in straight games in the summit