Good things come in Small packages

Fast like Usain Bolt and quick like Harry Houdini that’s Tanyasri Raghupatruni for you. This ten-year-old breathes soccer and knows how to tackle both the soccer ball and her critics with equal finesse.

Tanya who joined DRF’s Pudami school at Kondapur in 2011 showed an unlikely keenness for soccer. Her zest compelled the sports teacher to include her with the boys and he encouraged her to go toe-to-toe with her competitors instead of worrying about their gender. And she did just that. From the kick-off moment, Tanya is fixated on the ball and nothing can break the trance.

Emboldened by her abilities, Tanya was encouraged to enlist for soccer trials in 2016 for the U/10 Team and was selected by ‘JUST FOR KICKS’ – a global initiative to encourage leadership qualities among underprivileged children mainly through music and football.

And that was the beginning of a new chapter. She displayed commendable skills as a striker and with each year she moved from strength to strength. In early 2019, she qualified to play for the National Level Football finals at Bangalore. She played against two regional winners – Bangalore and Pune – and bagged the U/12 National Championship by scoring 3 goals against Bangalore and one goal against Pune.

This petite vice-captain has worked very hard to earn this identity. Coming from a very modest background, she travels 15 kms by bus each way to reach school and then walks another two kms to head for practice. But the tediousness has never distracted her from her practice.

She is happy to talk about the sport and narrates that she is not shy of “attacking”. However, she believes that strategizing is more important than just relying on brute force and between the team captain and her, they use speed to their advantage and planned to wear out their opponent initially and then attack & defeat the already exhausted team.

When asked how she reacted to her detractors or comments about soccer being a ‘Boys Game’ her answer underlined her confidence “I am here to stake my claim and I need just one chance to play against them to prove that girls are here to stay.”

Tanya’s poise and achievement proves that the Idea of women being any lesser to men is just a product of a social construct and if girls are encouraged at an early age it is easy for them break gender barriers.