Breaking gender barriers in Bhubaneswar, Odisha through Mixed Gender Football Tournament

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Bhubaneswar: The second edition of Mixed Gender Football Tournament was organised by Pro Sport Development (PSD) in partnership with the Fare Network on 19th October 2019 held at the Saraswati Shishu Vidya Mandir (SSVM) School in Patrapada, Bhubneswar. PSD is a social enterprise dedicated to using sport to aid in the holistic development of children and youth, with a focus on marginalized communities.
A total of 140 children (50% girls) took part in the competition with volunteers and support staff making the event a huge success. The participants for the tournament were from 7 different schools in Bhubaneswar.
The unique mixed gender tournament had 12 teams with a squad of 10-14 members out of which 7 members played on the field. From these 7 playing members, at least 4 had to be girls.
The 12 teams were divided into 4 groups, with each group playing round robin matches. Top two teams from each group then headed into a knockout format, with quarter -finals, semi-finals and the final being played. The coaches at PSD had been regularly training children in football skills which helped the children learn the basics of passing and dribbling, ball control and shooting.
With the supporters cheering from the side-lines and some challenging knockout rounds, the top two teams were from Saraswati Sishu Mandir (SSM) and Beena Bharati Vidya Mandir (BBVM). Both the teams gave a tough competition till the end but SSM came out victorious with 1-0 scoreline. One of the key player for Saraswati Sishu Mandir, Bharartpur’s win was the goal keeper, Revati Nayak who said “I had noticed I was good at goal keeping in the practise sessions, so I was focussing on basic skills and dodging the ball. Moreover, our win is also due to good team work and constant communication among the team”.

“I am really happy to participate in this tournament, we couldn’t reach the final but our team is happy we got the opportunity to participate in the mixed gender football tournament”, says Anandita Behera, Sarawati Sishu Vidya Mandir, class 9th, who looked quite optimistic of leading her team to the finals in the next edition.

Suheil F. Tandon, Founder-Director of Pro Sport Development, said “we are delighted to organise the 2nd mixed-gender football tournament in collaboration with FARE in Bhubaneswar. Tournaments such as these are important as they provide exposure to children and build peer-to-peer relationships. Moreover the mixed-gender format helps break rigid social norms that don’t allow genders to play sport together.”
Mixed gender tournament like these have proven to be a game changing tool to bring awareness among children and youth, build leadership qualities and break gender barriers prevalent in communities.
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