Five female hockey players from Jharkhand will participate in a three-week sports and cultural exchange program in the United States of America from June 24 to July 13 this year.
The players – Pundi Saru and Juhi Kumari from Khunti district, Priyanka Kumari from Gumla and Henrita Toppo and Purnima Neti from Simdega district were scheduled to participate in the exchange program in 2020 but the event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic Covid-19.
”Five of the best performers from the second edition of the East India Women’s Hockey and Leadership camp which ended on February 1, 2020, will participate in a three-week sports and cultural exchange immersion program in the United States designed by Middlebury from June 24 to July 13, 2022,’ a statement from the US Consulate in Kolkata said.
Pundi Saru, daughter of a worker, recently finished his 10th standard while Juhi Kumari had a difficult childhood with his alcoholic father and his mother working as a daily employee. With Priyanka Kumari’s father paralyzed, the full responsibility of supporting the family fell to her mother. Priyanka’s passion for sports led her to make a hockey stick from a bamboo stick, using which she trained hard.
Henrita Toppo from Simdega has also faced a lot of hardship as her mother works as a laborer to support her while Purnima Neti, also from the same district, comes from a poor financial background.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren who interacted with the young hockey players selected for a three-week talent exchange program at Middlebury College in Vermont, USA, congratulated them.
The American Consulate in Kolkata, in partnership with the NGO Shakti Vahini and with the support of the Jharkhand Hockey Federation, South Eastern Railway, Jharkhand Police and the Office of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA ), launched the Hockey project of Eastern India in 2018 to promote empowerment and promotes leadership and young girls’ development in young girls and women.
The project aimed to empower adolescent girls for community leadership, to combat human trafficking and gender-based violence.
“In its second edition in January 2020, the project was spearheaded by 16 female players from Middlebury College who traveled to Jharkhand to provide field hockey training to 100 young girls from different rural districts of the state,” says the communicated.
In addition to the on-court sports sessions, additional workshops were held which helped build a sense of confidence and community building that enabled them to act as leaders and mentors within their communities. respective, and to work in close collaboration with the police and the district committees to ensure school attendance and increased vigilance against traffickers, according to the press release.
Adrian Pratt, Director of the American Center Kolkata and Head of Public Affairs at the US Consulate General in Kolkata, said, “We believe the power of cultural exchange through sport is transformative. The East India Hockey program has become the face of our many relationships and partnerships. this underscored our decade-long anti-trafficking and gender-based violence efforts in the state.” During the six-day hockey training camp, five of the top 100 field hockey players been selected to visit Middlebury College, Vermont, USA for further hockey training.
Katharine DeLorenzo, field hockey coach and senior administrator at Middlebury College in Vermont, said, “Pundi, Juhi, Purnima, Henrita and Priyanka’s visit to the United States will be transformative for everyone involved. The five girls will experience daily strength and physical training, hockey competition with American women of all ages, health and wellness education, self-defense training , learning English and oratorical training. The five girls will also complete their hockey referee certification course before returning to India.” PTI NAM RG RG
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