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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Captain Payel On The Need For A Separate Pro-Kabaddi League For The Women’s Team

  • IWB Post
  •  August 28, 2018

No matter how much you try to contend this thought, men’s sports and women’s sports in India are two separate entities. Take a look at how there is a huge difference between the treatment meted out to the men’s and women’s cricket teams in the country (this is when cricket is the most popular sport in India) and what I am saying will make sense to you.

While for men, there are entire leagues doled out with generous finances, attention and screen space, women sportspersons in the country keep suffering on the fringes. They are kept neatly away from the limelight. It’s as if they are secondary, perhaps into pseudo-sports, or insignificant.

It is pertaining to such discriminatory and gendered attitudes, that the sportswomen of the country continue to suffer, get ignored and are constantly denied their share of recognition and honour.

This is why, ahead of National Sports Day, IWB is documenting narratives of gritty Indian sportswomen to bring to them much-deserved attention and accolades.

We are taking a sneak peek into what goes down before a game and after a tough loss or a jubilant win. We are also finding out what happens in ‘The Locker Room,’ the safe room where the gloves come off and they huddle together for “The Talk”, which prepares them for the battle ahead.

When we recently reached out to Payel Chowdhury, Indian women kabaddi team’s captain, she talked to us about the 2018 Asian Games, the recent re-trial row, and the gendered favouritism that enrages her.

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It is for the first time that India will be returning without a gold medal since kabaddi’s inclusion in Asian Games since 1990. Thus, what others are looking at as winning a silver, Payel looks at as losing the Gold.

She explains, “It has never happened before. Even when the men’s team lost, we were confident of the gold. Dukh ho raha hai bahut, har koi bahut hataash hai (We are pained and feel highly dejected).”

Earlier this month, Delhi High Court ruled that the selection process for the Indian kabaddi teams (both men’s and women’s) for the 2018 Asian was an “eyewash.” Following this, the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) was asked to conduct a fair selection process in accordance to the National Sports Code of India.

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However, the court recognized that it is wasn’t possible to make changes in the team already selected for the 2018 Asian Games as they were less than a fortnight away. The court thus came up with the orders that until the selected players prove their merit in trial games that will take place after the Asian Games, they should not be given any benefits in the nature of jobs, cash prizes etc.

Speaking on the row, Payel says, “Whatever was being propagated in the media also brought our morals down. We were constantly under stress and that affected our performance to a great extent. However, we tried to give our best despite all of that. Even during the match, there were instances where our points were not counted. We had a 5-6 lead right at the beginning. I was the one to take the first two raids. Despite the fact that I touched the line twice and came back, the referee gave us just one point refusing to give us the 2 points we earned.”

“Luck has been eluding us lately. We are still stressed. We are absolutely clueless about what is going to happen,” she adds.

The team is really apprehensive of what the future holds for them. The re-trials are scheduled for September 15 and that’s the only thing on the entire team’s mind right now.

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Owing to its domestic origins and history, kabaddi remains a rather favoured game when it comes to government support. When asked about it, Payel affirms the same. She says, “When we talk about the facilities, there are no problems as such. We get proper facilities and the government has been backing us well. It is because of kabaddi that I am in a well-paying railway job today.”

She adds, “The Railway has been extremely supportive. They have also started an initiative, under which sports achievers can practice throughout the year and still get paid for it. I have been reaping the benefits of the same for three years now.”

When it comes to the training, Payal tells me that the team is being trained really well. However, it is her Arjun awardee husband Prasanta Karmakar who is personally involved in her training and is “the real star”, as she says it. He is the one who constantly motivates her to perform better and chase perfection.

Moving on, when it comes to comparing the Indian men’s kabaddi team and the India women’s kabaddi team, there arrives a big discrepancy. While both the teams are being provided with the same kind of facilities, it is the Pro-Kabaddi league that makes all the difference.

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Payel says, “The Pro-Kabaddi league has made men’s Kabaddi team really popular. Unfortunately, there is no such league for women, which I feel is unfair. The kind of attention that is being given to the men’s team is not being given to us.”

She shares that an initiative on the same lines was indeed taken in 2016 called the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge, however, from what she says, it sounds like it was only a half-hearted effort.

She shares, “Three teams were pitched in for the Challenge. However, we were made to play in the men’s court which is larger than what we are used to playing in.”

Thus, Payel feels that there should be a separate Pro-Kabaddi league for the women’s team as well, where all the arrangements should be made as per their requirements. She says, “We have given consistent performances, are good at what we do and given a chance to prove it, we’d certainly do so.”

She also has a message for media, “Kabaddi mein bahut jaan hai, ispe focus badhaein (kabaddi, as a sport, is full of vitality, please focus a little more on the game). Also, the women’s kabaddi team is no less than the men’s kabaddi team and all we need is the same amount of attention to prove our mettle.”
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IWB has taken up its share of responsibility in impacting a change and supplying Indian sportswomen with the right dose of encouragement and motivation. We believe that every sports team deserves an anthem! In this effort, our in-house vocalist/songwriter Komal Panwar will sculpt a very personal anthem for the four teams that we are working with. This song will reflect their passion while encompassing their essence and energies.

Here’s the anthem for the Kabaddi team:

Indian Women Blog

Commemorating women in sports, shouting the battle cries, let’s welcome Indian Womens Kabaddi Team with their very own personalized Anthem. Let the drums roll and amp up the volume – the team is…

 

A big shout-out to our partners – EPIC TV Channel, Oateo OatsHRXGold’s Gym India, for joining us in solidarity and helping us in exploring the challenging road for India’s sportswomen.

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