Today, on the occasion of National girl Child Day, the Nurturing Excellence in Sports Trust (NEST) and the National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS) together launched ‘ Khelegi to Khilegi ’ programme. The programme is a pan-India football based programme for girls between the ages of 10-15 years. The Thyagaraj Stadium in Delhi hosted the first event today. It saw participation by over 700 girls from across Delhi NCR.
Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India, was the Chief Guest of the event. He along with Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament, who was the Guest of Honour inaugurated the programme.
The aim of the ‘Khelegi toh Khilegi’ programme is to develop girls football in the country. Also, the intention is to empower the girl child using football as a tool to break gender based stereotypes, improve their self-esteem and develop leadership skills in them. The plan is to have this event across 15 locations in the country in the first year. Along with this simultaneous workshops will also be organised. Issues relating to the girl child will be addressed in these workshops.
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India said, “In line with the efforts around ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’, Khelegi tohKhilegi is a welcome step in the field of sports. I congratulate all the people and organisations involved in this wonderful initiative.”
Addressing the workshop during the launch, Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament said, “I thank all the brothers who have come forward to support their sisters. Sports can go a long way to bring about a positive change and I’m happy to be here today.”
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Among the 700 girls at the launch today, Khushi, 10-years-old and daughter of a driver in Mangolpuri said, “I am really happy that I came here today. It was great playing football with the other girls and I want to play more”.
Similarly, 10 year old Dipansha, daughter of a carpenter from Sultanpur said, “It felt awesome meeting all the girls. I have played football before but today was different.”
Maneesh Bahuguna, Managing Trustee, NEST said, “In the past decade, women sportspersons have been performing consistently at the international level. Even the women’s’ football team is performing comparatively better than the men’s team and are ranked 54th in the world currently. This gives us the belief that given the right exposure and avenues to develop, womens’ football in the country presents a lot of scope. As an initiative, ‘Khelegi toh Khilegi’ will strive to not only develop girls football but also act as an agent of change to bring about a positive impact to empower the girl child.”
‘Khelegi toh Khilegi’, with a view to empowering girls and break gender stereotypes will also aim to increase the opportunities for girls from the non-urbanised and backward sections of the country. NEST is associating with several NGO’s, which work on social issues concerning young girls in the urban and rural areas.