With the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the under-17 (U-17) girls training in Goa for the FIFA World Cup to be held in February – March 2021 returned to their home states.

Eight of these girls also returned to Jharkhand which has 35% of the players in probable for the FIFA U-17 women’s World Cup 2020.

In fact, Jharkhand has been building the football culture among its young girls and boys by promoting this sport for the past few years and encouraging the players.

Interacting with the eight girls on Thursday in Ranchi, Chief minister, Hemant Soren, said, “They are our pride. Our daughters have shown tremendous courage and grit to be the nation’s best and it is our responsibility to ensure that they have the necessary support, facilities, skills and guidance to pursue their dreams of playing soccer and representing India at the World Cup and other international platforms.’’

He further added, “All children and especially girls have the right to adequate nutrition and health, to voice their concerns and to break gender stereotypical roles that they are often burdened with. They are the Role Models and we have a responsibility in enabling them and empowering to become confident, vocal and active citizens.’’

The eight girls are from villages and tribal communities such as Gumla and devoted to this sport. Speaking at the occasion, Prasanta Dash, Chief, UNICEF Jharkhand said, “Girls of Jharkhand, especially from tribal regions have been at the forefront in sports at both the national and international levels. 

And we are pleased to know that that the eight girls of Jharkhand have been selected for the 35 member U-17 FIFA World Cup National Camp. It is heartening to see their commitment towards this sport.’’

To show support to these girls and to encourage them, UNICEF in collaboration with the Department of Sports, Jharkhand, gifted these girls T-shirts today and engaged with them as Champions of Change for Child Rights. 

Pooja Singhal, Secretary, Department of Sports, Youth Affairs, Tourism, Art and Culture welcomed UNICEF’s technical support and said, ‘’Our young girls through their mettle, hard work and achievements have demonstrated the true spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. We are happy to collaborate with UNICEF in Jharkhand and hope that the partnership will enable more Champions of Change for Child Rights in the future.’’

These Champions in the State will be oriented by UNICEF as a part of their technical support to the Government of Jharkhand on child rights, adolescent issues, guidance on appropriate nutrition, menstrual health, mental health and psychosocial counselling etc. 

Mr Prasanta Dash further congratulated the Government of Jharkhand, the CM and the Secretary, Department of Sports and Youth Affairs on the initiative taken in supporting the U-17 girls of Jharkhand. He said, “We have noted your commitment towards promoting women in sports especially those from marginalized communities and from meager socio-economic groups.”

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