Women tea workers set goals in soccer arena


Women tea workers set goals in soccer arena
The girls from tea gardens kicked hard, played hard and showed that they, too, could “Bend it like Beckham” if provided with a platform like the reel star Jess, who chased her dreams in Gurinder Chadda’s award winning film.
In the Darjeeling hills, where female football tourneys are not regular events, Chamong Tee Exports Private Limited partnered with Germany-based supermarket chain ALDI and another Germany organisation Fairtrade International to hold Durga Dutta Lohia memorial football tournament.
The women soccer tournament had one team each from 16 tea gardens of the Chamong Tee’s group — 13 in the hills, and Maud, Sewpur and Tonganagaon estates in Assam.
As the finals were in progress at the Gorkha stadium in Darjeeling on Sunday, Chamong Tee chairman Ashok Lohia said: “Everybody is talking about women empowerment. But tomorrow, I think tea garden women are going to take over everything because the men are now moving out of gardens.”

In hill tea gardens, “65 to 70 per cent” of the workforce consists of women. Chamong Tee is the largest group in the Darjeeling Tea industry and the first to organise an inter-garden women football tournament in the hills.
“One cannot only work. There has to be cultural exchanges, sharing of views and interaction. This is why we also organised a cultural show,” said Lohia.
“The supermarket chain ALDI came up with a suggestion with Fairtrade to do something different from the daily routine for workers. They wanted a partner and we were approached,” said Lohia.
The tournament, which is named after Lohia’s grandfather, had a budget of more than Rs 40 lakh and the expenses were equally borne by the Indian and Germany partners.
The format of the tourney was unique. A round robin league was organised at the Maud tea garden in Assam and on Soom, Marybong and Nagri estates in Darjeeling.
“The top two teams were selected for the gold plate tournament, while the others competed for the silver plate. Quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals were held for both the categories,” said Indranil Ghosh, director (plantation and operations), Chamong Tee.
While Lingia beat Pussimbing to lift the silver plate, Maud defeated Tonganagaon to emerge as the winner in the gold plate category. Both the finals were held at the Gorkha stadium in Darjeeling on Sunday.
Women garden workers were seen fervently cheering their teams, with some breaking into spontaneous dance.
Dipasha Rai, a Class X student of Ghooms Girls Higher Secondary School, and a resident of Pussimbing tea garden, about 20km from Darjeeling, said: “I have always played football. Women football is slowly picking up and we have more women teams. In the current year, this is the second tournament in which I am playing.”
Although the tournament was a seven-side event, Ghosh said it was mandatory that 11 players were used in each match to earn extra points during the round robin. “This was to provide a platform to all players,” said Ghosh.
“It is quite an achievement that Chamong group managed to get a team from its all gardens. This would encourage women football in the hills,” said a spectator.

https://www.telegraphindia.com
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The girls from tea gardens kicked hard, played hard and showed that they, too, could “Bend it like Beckham” if provided with a platform like the reel star Jess, who chased her dreams in Gurinder Chadda’s award winning film.

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