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Not allowed to wear shorts, this Bihar girl became Asia’s fastest

Not allowed to wear shorts, this Bihar girl became Asia’s fastest

Abhijit Nair

Published: 6 Jan 2021 9:18 AM GMT

Sweety Kumari, aged 20 now, is widely recognised by Asia Rugby as the fastest rugby player in the Asian continent. Her rise to the top has been nothing short of extraordinary, which includes setting up her own team to play at the State Championship at the age of just fourteen.

Hailing from a small village in the Nawada district of Bihar, Sweety was born to a labourer father and her mother used to work as an anganwadi worker. The fifth born out of even siblings, she spent most of her childhood in poverty. However, her father was immensely supportive. In an interview she said, “My father put me ahead of others and helped me in every way he could. I would tell coaches to lend me spikes, I would prove I deserved them by winning.”

Humble beginnings in sports

But, this did not stop her from trying out her luck in sports.

Her career in sports started out when she followed her elder brother’s footsteps in athletics. Though her brother soon left sports, Sweety stuck to it and even ran 100m in 11.58 seconds.

Her tryst with Rugby happened when the secretary of the state rugby association noticed her during the state athletics meet and asked her to give rugby a try. Even though she did not understand anything about the sport, she gave it a chance.

‘Pass the ball and run forward’, was all she understood about the game when she started. This soon changed as she picked up the rules quickly and started developing into a dangerous attacking winger. Aged just 14 then, she learnt all she could about the game and formed her own team to participate in the State Championship.

Sweety Kumari was just named 2019's International Young Player of the Year by women's rugby magazine- (Source: Rugby India) Sweety Kumari was just named 2019's International Young Player of the Year by women's rugby magazine- (Source: Rugby India)

Growing up to be one of India's best players

With each passing day, her game improved and so did her pace in the field. This propelled her to an international debut at the age of just 18 years.

There has been no looking back since for the youngster who was dubbed as the ‘Faster player in the continent’ by Asia Rugby, in the same year. Add to that her ability to score for fun under immense pressure, and Sweety was rightly nicknamed ‘The Scoring Machine’ by her teammates.

Such has been her influence in the success of Indian women’s Rugby team that she had top-scored for the country in as many as seven tournaments at the start of the year 2020.

Apart from this, her two tries against Singapore were instrumental in helping India register their first ever test match win. What was more astonishing is the fact that Sweety single-handedly took down four defenders in the match enroute to one of those tries.

If you are not impressed with four defenders, note that this came on the back of a game against Philippines where she went past six defenders to score for her team!

“Six tacklers against Philippines and four in the next match with Singapore, nobody could catch me. They all try, they come from front and behind, and pull me. But nobody can match my speed,” Sweety had said to The Indian Express almost a year back.

Her impressive performance in the field, her explosive pace and power had led to her being named as The International Young Player of the Year 2019 by Scrumqueens – a reputed website dedicated to Women’s Rugby.

She was nominated for this award along with players from 10 other countries and became the first ever Asian to win a Scrumqueens award.

The journey has just started for Sweety Kumari and with the early promise she has shown, it would be interesting to see the heights she can scale and the heights she can take Indian Women’s Rugby to.

Also read: 19-yr-old Bihar girl is rugby’s International Young Player of the Year

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