In an inspiring turn of events, nine girls hailing from a Naxal-affected area in Chhattisgarh who have been training on a helipad due to lack of facilities, have been selected for the junior national hockey trial camp.
The tribal girls who belong to the age group of 14-17 years were encouraged to take up the training in 2016. They have been trained by paramilitary force Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) reportedly deployed in Kondagaon district to tackle the Maoist menace.
They were provided with basic gear and equipment and made use of the helipad near the Mardapal police camp which has been the only open space available for training.
"Nine tribal girls who began their hockey training with the ITBP academy run by the 41st battalion have been selected for the Hockey India sub-junior and junior national trial camp," said a senior ITBP officer, reported The New Indian Express.
The coach and ITBP head constable Surya Smit said the girls "can do wonders if given more exposure and better facilities".
The girls, however, pointed out the lack of facilities to pursue their dream of playing in the national women's hockey team and appealed to Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to help them get access to a proper playing field to enhance their skills.
"We had read in our school book that hockey is our national game but knew nothing about it till 2016 when ITBP took us under its wings. We practise on a helipad near the Mardapal police camp which is the only open space available," said Sulochana Netam, one of the players.
"The helipad is partly cemented and the rest of the ground is uneven. There is a fear of getting injured and playing on such a ground is difficult too. We request Union sports minister Mr Kiren Rijiju to help us in getting a proper playing field," she added.
Reports suggest that at least 55 girls from the local area including tribal regions are being trained by the ITBP in hockey apart from some others who are being trained in football.