Know the story of Sweta Shahi from Nalanda featured in Rugby Campaign Video

The rugby global campaign video is viral and a confident girl featuring in the video once was unaware about rugby 7 years back and is now an International rugby player. Sweta Shahi, a 20 year old girl from Nalanda, Bihar has represented India at three Asia Rugby Sevens tournament, she plays for the Bihar team and coaches 100  players from the district, out of them 70 are men.

On behalf of Rugby India, it is an absolute honor and privilege to be part of this global initiative to lift the profile of Women's Rugby!Rugby has helped me in life, both on and off the field – I urge all women to 'Start Rugby, Become Unstoppable' #TryandStopUs #WomeninRugby #Unstoppable World Rugby Sweta Shahi

Posted by Sweta Shahi on Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sweta Shahi is going to attend a national training camp this month. She is hoping for her selection in National 15- member India women’s rugby team which is participating in the 2019 Asia Rugby Women’s Championship Division 1 in Manila.

Sweta despite her young age has achieved a lot on her journey from Bhadari in Nalanda breaking all the stereotypical beliefs and then becoming an international sevens player. Shahi was noticed by the secretary of the Bihar Rugby Association at Inter district athletes Championship in Bihar in 2012. Sweta was just 12; the secretary picked her out for the rugby team to play for the upcoming tournament. Unaware of the game and even the word ‘rugby’, Sweta paved her journey to play this sport since then.

 

“The rugby secretary in my state introduced me to the sport and said you have the qualities to be a good rugby player. He explained the basic rules of the sport to me – that you had to pass the ball backwards – and I was taken to the physical aspect,” Shahi said.

‘’At that time, I did not know what rugby meant and no one from my family even knew the sport. It was not shown on TV and we had no smart phone or computer at home to watch it online.”

Sweta Shahi’s father Sujit Kumar is a farmer and mother Champa Devi is a home maker, she comes from a middle class family where women got married in their teens and become housewives. The only sport the people at Bhadari know was kabaddi. Boys of the village used to play sport for CRPF joining and girls never seemed interested in such sports.

Sweta Shahi has become the only woman from Bihar, to be summonsed for a national training camp in 2013 and has gone on to represent her country at Asia Rugby events. But this was possible by her zeal to achieve. Unable to access coaching of any kind, Shahi continuously trained herself through video tutorials that she found on social media by borrowing Smartphone from a villager. Her father guided her as a coach who used to watch you tube videos with her. From her family, she had a support of her father and grandfather, the rest members of the family always abandoned her from playing rugby.

Sweta had also broken her ligaments of knee and collar bone after which she undergone a surgery which was afforded by her father by selling a land. Her uncle taunted her that nobody will marry her, if she continues to play and break her body parts the same way. But the constant support of her father and other female friends who encouraged her to live her dream made her stronger.

Sweta started training young boys and girls from her village to play rugby. She even organised a tournament at her district with four to 500 players. With time, Shahi has witnessed a rise in the number of girls who are willing to join her on her cycle from her village, and marched to training sessions at the local school.

Staying at her home and practicing rugby daily is tough for Sweta but she manages to cycle 6 km to practice touch rugby and do fitness exercises. The further problems arising in her sport is money and language. She cannot afford special diet and equipment like rugby ball, tackle pads, head guards and scrum pads. Belonging from a Magahi speaking area, Sweta has to learn English as she did her schooling from a Hindi medium school .

From a shy girl to a confident player, from a scared player to an independent traveller, the journey of Sweta Shahi is inspiring who is now focusing to represent India in Olympics. PatnaBeats wishes her good luck for her ultimate dream to help her country qualify to play sevens at the Olympic Games.

Source- TOI


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