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Footballers of India’s u17 Women’s World Cup team struggling to get two meals a day

Footballers of India’s u17 Women’s World Cup team struggling to get two meals a day

The Bridge Desk

Published: 8 Jun 2020 12:15 PM GMT

The coronavirus pandemic and the consequent countrywide lockdown has affected several aspects of life. Four footballers from Jharkhand, who are set to be a part of the Indian national team at the upcoming FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, have had to phase the grim realities during these two-three months.

For the first time, the Indian U17 women’s team will be taking part in a tournament of such scale. As hosts, the team got a direct entry into the tournament scheduled to be held in February next year (postponed from November 2020 due to the pandemic). The All India Football Federation has been hosting camps for the probables, from which only the best will make the cut for the final squad.


In such a scenario, it is extremely important for all the probables to be properly nourished and stay fit for the last leg of preparations once the situation eases out. However, four players from Jharkhand, namely, Sumati Kunari (forward) , Sudha Ankita Tirki (defender) , Poornima Kumari (defender) and Ashtam Oraon (midfielder), have been struggling to get two meals a day. Each of them come from underprivileged families, mostly of daily wage earners.

They had gone for exposure trips to Turkey and Bhutan this year, following which there was a preparation camp in Goa. After the camp, the players returned home in the beginning of March, just in time for lockdown to be imposed. For them, the real survival game began then.

Poornima, whose chances of her joining the team quite bright, told Gaon Connection, “My sister takes loans to arrange for basic costs. She is not able to get any job at the moment. When I come home, dad asks what I wish to eat, but I never say anything. He is quite sick, but does not seek treatment because of me. He wants to save money so that I can play.”

Another probable, Adrija Sorkhel, who hails from West Bengal, and is the daughter of an auto-rickshawala, also faced problems during the lockdown. With her father forced to stay at home, it was difficult to arrange for meals let alone the diet that the players followed during the national camps.

A few days back, the AIFF had announced that they have decided to pay a monthly stipend of INR 10,000 in June and July, 2020 to all the probables.

The official statement read, “All India Football Federation has taken an initiative to support the dietary regime of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup probables by paying a stipend of Rs. 10000/- per player for the months of June and July 2020.

“The AIFF will take a stock of the situation later as and when the preparatory camp in Goa can resume as per Government directives.

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