Ranchi: A passionate footballer at 17, Sunita Kumari, who lives in a village outside of Ranchi, was recently the youngest speaker in Denmark amid accomplished women footballers from around the world.
She plays forward at an attacking position which resonates with her attitude in life. In 2010, Sunita joined a football academy and educational facility near her village and has been training hard since.
In broken English, Sunita spoke of her dreams that drew a huge applause from a packed hall. “I will study more. Then go to a university and I will choose my job. I will convince my parents that I want to be a businesswoman,” she said.
Sunita said football has given her the confidence to dream of an education and a job despite being from a state where girls like her in extreme poverty are either married off early or trafficked.
The academy which is bringing Sunita’s dreams to life is run by an American Franz Gastler, who moved to Jharkhand in 2008 and runs an NGO called YUV. 40 other girls from villages near Ranchi are training in the academy to become professional football players.
The school which Mr Gasler started in 2009 along with the academy now has 80 girls studying in class 1 to class 9 from nearby villages. A larger facility to educate 500 girls is in the pipeline.
“We have realized that football can be a powerful platform for education. The girls who play football they stick together and encourage each other to study and dream of a future “, says Franz.