CHANDIGARH: It was just last week that the small town of Barnala in Punjab celebrated the success of their son of the soil. After all, 19-year-old Satnam Singh became the first Indian to book a spot in a National Basketball Association (NBA) team in the US.
Just a few kilometres away from Satnam’s hometown, hundreds of girls from the Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Dhuri are making their presence felt in the sporting arena, rather silently. Overcoming all odds, the girls from lower middle-class families have won 27 medals at various national-level meets last year, and are eyeing more.
They don’t have the arclights on them, and most surprisingly, the school doesn’t have infrastructure or even a ground to train them. But it’s the passion for the game that drives them to practice hard in a field near the grain market in the middle of the village.
Being the only girl’s school in this sub-division, it has 1,200 students, of which a lot actually take up sport. A notice board in the institution displays photographs of the young achievers. Despite not having any ground facilities or other infrastructure, what makes so many girls take up sports?
“We take 150 girl students in various disciplines. The training starts from 2pm and goes on till evening. After Satnam’s success, the girls are a motivated lot. It’s this passion for sports that unites them together,” sports teacher Surinder Mohan explains.
After being transferred to the school in 2004, Mohan has made it a point to encourage the girls in taking up sports. The success rate has only gone up in the last decade.
Now, the youngsters try their hands in various disciplines—boxing, table tennis, soft ball, basket ball, badminton, martial arts, and yoga. A former boxer himself, Mohan has been training the girls for the past few years, and in 2013-14, the school bagged the pole position at the zonal and district levels.
Not just that, the girls maintained their winning streak last year too. In karate, Kiranpal Kaur clinched the titles at the zonal and district-level tournaments. Kaur, a student of Class XII, also grabbed gold in the third North-India Open Karate Championship. Participating in the 45-kg category, she won bronze medal in International Karate Competition in Nepal. “I train for two hours in the morning and evening. Training in an open ground near the grain market is difficult, but that’s how it is,” Kaur says.
Kiranpal’s classmate Gagandeep Kaur, who has represented Punjab at the national level basketball tournament, agrees. Gagandeep’s parents are farmers and at times it really gets difficult for her to maintain proper diet.
Even then she fights on. It’s this determination of the girls that makes the school sports team stand out. Boxer Rajni Sharma won silver medal at the Punjab junior girls Boxing competition in 2007-08 and in 2008-09, she won silver medal in Punjab Senior meet. Her success continued in 2009-10 too as she claimed the North India boxing championship and Federation Cup titles.