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Shweta Shahi: A self-taught 19-year-old rugby player bringing glory to India

Shweta Shahi: A self-taught 19-year-old rugby player bringing glory to India

Meenakshi Sharma

Published: 8 March 2019 3:47 AM GMT
“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; It’s about what you inspire others to do.” Walking on the hot sand and sweating the blood out, here we have a story of success of a 19-year-old Shweta Shahi, who learned the antics of Rugby while watching videos on YouTube. Internet has been the biggest equalizer. Indeed it has its own flaws but it stands out tall with the benefits it provides. Foremost it serves equal opportunities and a platform to learn skills regardless of what you are and from where you belong to. And this young champion grabbed this opportunity unknowingly which scribbled her future with bright colors.
Shweta, a known name in her domestic circuit, was born in a farmer’s family of Bhadari village in Nalanda district of Bihar. Her father Sujit Kumar Shahi is a farmer and her mother Champa Devi is a homemaker. She has an elder sister and three brothers. She has always been a prodigy among her teens. She grew up like any other girl in the village but things didn’t remain the same for her since she managed to operate Youtube in her father’s phone. She used to watch rugby for hours enjoying the sport without even knowing the sport’s name. The 19-year-old was first spotted in a state athletic event by Bihar’s rugby secretary
. When Shweta Shahi was asked if she would like to play rugby, it was the first time she had heard the word. Being in love with the game, Shweta copies the antics and practises the steps all day. Her passion for sports didn’t go unnoticed for long when her father noted her courage.  She started training for the sport with her father, who supported her unconditionally in her journey, even going against the wishes of the family and villagers in Shweta’s quest to achieve greatness. This story of glory was not easy, Being a girl from a village she had been severely oppressed by the society. In the village, where girls were supposed to get married in the early age, Shweta didn’t linger with the options, her family availed and fought all the odds to pursue her passion as a career. Recoiling the memories she said:
 There were some in my family who objected. My maternal uncle who was of the view that women shouldn’t play sports said, “Who would marry you?”
Rugby is an injury-prone sport. What if I get hurt? He was worried that nobody would want to marry me. If it weren’t for my father’s unconditional support, I would not have reached where I have. Due to financial instability and economy crisis, She couldn’t afford to have a coach. While family issues and money were one part of her struggle, having no ground to practice and unaffordable basic amenities of sports was also a major hurdle. While speaking to Quint she said- “I had been practising on a field but the owner built boundaries around it. I used to cycle 6 km every morning to train in a school’s playground which had stones and bumps”.
Her struggle was finally rewarded when Shweta became the only girl from Bihar selected for the national camp in 2013. Shweta, today, has represented India in multiple global competitions and has 3 international championships under her belt. Later on, the 19-year-old went onto represent India in the Asian Rugby Seven Series held in Sri Lanka, Dubai and South Korea. Having represented the country on the international stage, Shahi is not only targeting the Olympics but also wants rugby to flourish in Nalanda. She goes from school to school trying to encourage more girls to take up rugby. She trains the girls under her supervision who are already outshining at the national level.
Shweta has been invited to attend a World Rugby meeting aimed at accelerating the global development of women in
Rugby. While anticipating as a first voter in the general elections 2019, Shweta has certain demands from the government to work on the sports infrastructure of the country, especially to the small towns and cities. She does not want eligible sportsperson to settle for a poverty-stricken life just because of the lack of basic sporting facilities. “Politicians are making roads but none of them focuses on players. My major problem is that I do not have a ground. I have no training equipment or any facility. When I vote in 2019, I will vote with these issues in mind. We’re India’s future. If we do well, we will bring pride to our districts and states. If they promise to work for us, I will vote for them,”
she said. The nation is proud to have such empowered woman like Shweta Shahi, who breaks all the handcuffs of stereotypes and outshone all the adverse conditions creating her own path of success. Shweta didn’t only shaped herself as a sportsperson but also worked for the betterment of society. She took charge of the other girls to have a progressive step in the field of sports. She is a woman of deeds and backbone of steel and we are extremely proud of this Bihar’s daughter. (This article was first published on Patna Beats)
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