Sports and growing up in a gender bias.

I want to write this blog about how we still live in a system filled with gender bias, especially in the field of sports.

An avid sports player and cricket lover since a child… I was always the only girl to play amongst the boys, be it cricket all through the year, or sprinting…or football during the rains.

From my point of view, I have had no qualms being the only girl doing anything at all or being in a room full of only men.

When I played snooker I was back then the only girl in the room full of boys too, until some other girls joined in off and on.

And I didn’t see anything there except people playing and enjoying a sport. As long as I played well and fair and better than most boys. I really didn’t care.

What I couldn’t see was the gender bias, the difference, the system, the thought process of the people.

Not just the men or boys playing with me, but that of the parents, that of elders, that of well-wishers… all who wanted to say… “an only girl playing with so many boys?”

It didn’t matter if I was just an 8 year old or 10 or perhaps later at 16 and 20 or even 40.

Somehow age didn’t play as much as an important role as much as me just being a girl by birth did.

It is almost an outcast in our system of sports playing boys and men too.

And so yes, I was expected to cook and clean and know the nuances of running a family and house. or maybe even get a job and earn a living.

While if I played it was because I was “allowed to” maybe spend an hour of my day playing like children are supposed to.

What about my passion? For sports? Or the games?

Or that I may have wanted to pursue something as a career ever, or lift the flag as my COUNTRY’S player?

That was never a thought in anybody’s world or universe except mine.

While I built my castles, I played my shots in my head more than on the field…. life kept passing by with me watching others, perform, excel, scale heights and I was always wishing I was one of them too.

Then I got married, and I realized passions don’t die.

Only life changes. Like a status changed overnight from single to married.

I became even more of a background spectator than a player.

Even though everyone knows how passionate I am or was for sports… it didn’t matter.

It was my choice to pick home over a bat or children over a cue.

I didn’t play cricket like some of the boys every Sunday even though they were married, but I still loved playing it.

And would still love to play on every given occasion. Until I realized one fine day that the gender biases didn’t ever die down. They stay.

So when the boys get together to play and I get a chance… I realize I don’t actually get to play on so many occasions….only do the girl thing… stand, watch, cheer or at the most field, (like it wasn’t that enough to participate and make one feel like you were included by the boys)

I am usually appalled that the boys do that, but then how do I forget they grew up like that…we don’t teach our boys to include girls…also sometimes it is just the matter of boys wanting to play with boys and doing their boy thing…yet the two are starkly different…however the underline for it should be addressed…why this “need” to exclude?

I may not like chatting over or talking or whatever else a lot of girls enjoying doing. And it may be fun for them but it is not for me, and so none of it is wrong or worthy of judgment from anyone. It is a case of “to each one’s own”

I love playing, being on the field. Enjoying a sport, competing.

There are hundreds and thousands of girls who would have had intense passion and determination to pursue a sporting dream and yet no resource nor any backing.

Can we not stand up for them? Can we not change our mindset and include not exclude girls at the most basic and primary levels of our own backyard games???

Don’t they all begin there ???

Can we not have an infrastructure to tap potential and educate and change our selves and society, so we can produce more and more of HIMA’S, SAINA’S, MARY’S ( just to name few on the fingertips)

And so many more ( who are beyond a count) who have achieved so much, and yet not without going through so much resistance and struggle?? or those still struggling and grappling between home and their passions and talents.

What if we can make it easy for them?

How much more and how many more such legends can we create and contribute to….and make our country proud therein.

We as a generation today can create this change looking forward, and it is not only to be in the educated, middle/affluent socio-economic sectors, where they can also afford to build up their child’s dreams and make them pursue it….but in our ground level and roots, in our villages, where we can change their mindsets first, where they can have people as coaches and families and most of all PARENTS, who encourage and empower girls and women to choose and dream beyond their limitations.

Let us stand up for daughter’s, girls, wives, mothers…. to be given equal rights and opportunities to have fun and play too.

Let us not have to tell another talented girl, how unfortunate it is that she was were born a girl in our country and society.

-Sonalli Guptaa

(I am an avid sports enthusiast and supporter of empowerment through sports.

I play sport, I watch sports, I encourage sports and I also own and mentor a team for women players participating in various leagues.)

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My logo for me is the circle of love and life and a lotus that is symbolic of, that one can grow anywhere, no matter how muddy the waters are. And so be it for me too. Empower-Enlighten-Enhance

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