Play like a girl. That’s the proud hashtag that you’ll see on every single post by India’s first ever Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. And the excitement among the 20 girls from all over India is palpable, with the team gearing up for their first World Ultimate & Gut Championships in London, in June.
With nearly 100 women vying for a spot on the team, including video trials sent by desi girls from Australia and USA, team manager Ranjani Shanker says the coaches zoned in on a fairly multicultural team in the end. “Apart from girls from the metros like Chennai, Bengaluru and New Delhi, we have two girls from Japan and Germany on the team as well,” she informs.
According to the rule book, Ranjani explains, “This is also the ultimately inclusive sport, as athletes who have stayed in a country for up to a year, are allowed to represent it as a member of the community.”
Chiai Uraguchi from Japan, who has been working with an NGO in Chennai, says she is comfortable with her teammates and after playing on the Elliot’s Beach for five years, it has begun to feel like home. “I can’t wait to play with my teammates at the World Championships. I’m also looking forward to understanding the spirit of the game from a cultural perspective and I hope we can all learn from each other,” she smiles.
Sangeetha Manoharan, who is playing as well as reaching out to sponsors, says, “We have lots of stories of girls who have fought financial obstacles to be able to do this. One of my teammates even broke a fixed deposit that was meant for her wedding to attend a training camp!”
To raise over `40 lakh for air fare to London and back, as well as training and expenses of support staff on the trip, the team is also creating a crowd funding platform that should go live by Women’s Day (March 8).
With male coaches leading the way, this is a women’s empowerment story where men have no part to play in the obstacle course. The bigger challenge is their stamina — be it with their frisbee throws or funding, stay resolute. Although, conversing in everything from Tamil to Gujarati to German — the language choices appear more dizzying than a spinning frisbee! Visit www.ketto.org/firstever for more details.