Five Jharkhand women hockey players selected for US sports & cultural exchange programme

  • | Monday | 20th June, 2022

Ranchi, Jun 20 (PTI) Five Jharkhand women hockey players will participate in a three-week sports and cultural exchange programme 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 go for the exchange programme in 2020 but the event was postponed in view of Covid-19 pandemic. "Five top performers of the second edition of the East India Women"s Hockey and Leadership camp which wrapped up on February 1, 2020, will participate in a three-week sports and cultural exchange immersion programme in the US designed by Middlebury from June 24-July 13, 2022," a statement from US Consulate, Kolkata said. Pundi Saru, daughter of a labourer recently completed her 10th standard while Juhi Kumari had a difficult childhood with her father being an alcoholic and mother working as a daily wage earner. Priyanka Kumari"s father being a patient of paralysis, the entire responsibility to sustain livelihood for the family fell on her mother’s shoulder. Priyanka’s passion for the sport led her to make a hockey stick out of a bamboo stick, with the help of which she practiced hard. Henrita Toppo from Simdega too faced much difficulty as her mother works as a labourer to sustain livelihood 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 three-week talent exchange programme in Middlebury College, in Vermont, USA felicitated them. The US Consulate Kolkata in partnership with NGO Shakti Vahini, and with the support of Jharkhand Hockey Federation, South-Eastern Railway, Jharkhand Police, and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs (ECA) had launched the East India Hockey Project in 2018 to promote empowerment and foster youth leadership and development among young girls and women of Jharkhand. The project aimed to empower adolescent girls for community leadership, combat human trafficking and gender-based violence. "In its second edition in January 2020, the project was led by 16 Middlebury College players who travelled to Jharkhand to provide field hockey training to 100 young girls coming from different rural districts of the state," the statement said. Besides on-field sport sessions, supplemental workshops were conducted which helped to impart a sense of confidence and community building that allowed them to step into the role of leaders and mentors within their respective communities, and work closely with law enforcement and district committees to ensure school attendance and increased vigilance against traffickers, the statement said. Adrian Pratt, Director of the American Center Kolkata, and Public Affairs Officer of the US Consulate General Kolkata said, “We believe the power of cultural exchange through sports is transformative. The East India Hockey program has become the face of our many connections and partnerships that has underlined our decade long anti-trafficking and anti-gender-based violence efforts in the state." During the six days hockey training camp, five top field hockey players from the group of 100, were selected to visit the Middlebury College, Vermont, United States for further hockey training. Katharine DeLorenzo, Field Hockey Coach, and Senior Woman Administrator at the Middlebury College in Vermont said, "The visit to the United States by Pundi, Juhi, Purnima, Henrita and Priyanka will be transformative for all involved. All five girls will experience daily fitness and strength training, hockey competition with American women of all ages, health and wellness education, self-defense training, English language learning and oratory training. All five girls will also complete their hockey umpiring certification course before returning to India." PTI NAM RG RG

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