Meeting the team We read in the newspaper about Afsana and the Nagpada basketball team. We thought of meeting these girls and introducing them to you. We took the train and got off at Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus Station (railway station). From there we walked towards Nagpada. It took us just twenty minutes to reach there. There we met Afsana and the other girls of the Nagpada Basketball Association. Read the interview with the team members. 154 Meet this special team! Meet Afsana, Zarin, Khushnoor and Afreen. At first the girls were quiet, but once they started, they just did not stop! Zarin began, “My house is just in front of this ground. My brother used to play here. I would stand in my balcony and watch the boys play. I was in Class VII at that time. Whenever the boys played a match, many people came to watch. The winning team got a lot of praise. Everyone cheered the players. On seeing all this, I wished I could also play. Would I too get a chance to show my talent? I asked the coach, but was afraid. He is a good friend of my father. The coach said, “Why not? If you bring some more girls, you can make a team. Then I will teach you.” Find out • Is there any place to play near your house? • What do people play there? Who plays there? • Do the children of your age also get a chance to play there? • What other things happen at this place? We asked – Was it easy to make a beginning? Tell • Has anyone ever stopped you from playing some games? Which games? • Who stopped you and why? What did you do then? • Did anyone help you and encourage you to play? 156 Looking Around We asked – Tell us about your team One girl: We felt a bit strange in the beginning. We were the first girls’ team here. People used to come and watch us practicing. They were curious to see how girls would play basketball. Now people are no longer surprised. They have begun to accept that we girls can also play well. One girl: We also play with boys’ teams. We want them to play with us as equals. They should not be lenient because we are girls. Sometimes we get angry when the boys imitate us. But we take it as a challenge and correct our mistakes. If the boys try to cheat, we scold them! Discuss • Do girls and boys play different types of games in your school or neighbourhood? If yes, then which games do the boys play and which do the girls play? • Do you think that there is any difference between the games and the way they are played by boys and girls? • Should the games for boys and the girls be different? What do you think? We said – Tell us more about your team. One girl : Our team is very special. Our team is united. Even if we quarrel, we quickly make up and forget about it. Here we have learnt how to stay and play together. Some of the girls from our team got a chance to play as part of the Mumbai team. The match was at Sholapur. Zarin : When we went to Sholapur we found that the team had girls from different parts of the state. They did not talk to us nicely and treated us like juniors. They would not even give us a chance to play properly. We felt very bad. There was no cooperation at all in that team. Write • Have you ever played as part of a team of your class, school or neighbourhood? Whom did you play with? What game did you play? • What is the difference between playing for yourself and for the team? • While playing in a team would you like to play for yourself or for the team? Why? • Is your team like the team Afsana played with at Sholapur or like the Nagpada team? How? We said – You have done so much. What next? Discuss • Have you ever taken part in some game or competition from your school or area? How did you feel? • Did you go to some other place to play? What was that place like? How did you like going to that place? • Have you seen matches being played between India and other countries? Which ones? • We all know about the cricketers of India, and we all like them. Do people also know and like the Indian players who play some other games? (Yes or No). What do you feel about it? Do you know the players of the Indian football or kabaddi team? We asked – Did you face some other difficulties? One girl : Now, just look at Zarin’s younger brother. He is only five years old but he says, “Mummy, why do you send didi to play? She does not look nice playing like that on the ground.” Ask him if he will play and he says, “I am a boy, of Discuss • What would happen if girls are not allowed to play games, to study or do some other work of their choice? • How would you feel if you were not allowed to take part in some game or drama? • Have you heard of any women players? Name them and the games they play. • In which areas other than sports have you heard of women getting recognition? • Are these women less known than men? Why? • How would you find the world to be, if girls never got a chance to take part in games, drama or dance? How would you feel if such a thing happened to boys? • film actor or a model) What next? 162 Looking Around We said – The newspaper wrote about all of you. Now students will read about you in this book. How do you feel? Afreen: We are so happy about it that we have no words to explain our happiness. We now feel we must play even better, to make our area and our country famous. All Girls : Yes, this is our wish too. Coach Sir The coach who made this team, Noor Khan told us – “This part of Mumbai is very crowded. This is the only playground in this area. This is our small ‘Bacchu Khan playground.’ A person named Mustafa Khan used to live in our area. Everyone was afraid of him. But children were very fond of him, so everyone started calling him Bacchu Khan. There was no ground then, it was just muddy land. Bacchu Khan used to train children to play. We were among those children. It is because of Bacchu Khan’s devotion and training that players from this area are able to compete with the teams of other countries. Like Bacchu Khan, I have trained the children of this area. Today our team has some who play at the international level. Some have even won the Arjuna Award.” Noor Khan continued – “In the last few years we have also prepared a girls team here. Our girls play for the Maharashtra State team. They practice well with good discipline. Our girls and boys come from different types of families. Some are from poor homes, some from richer. Some study in Urdu medium and some in English. But once they come here, they all make a team.” Think and write • The newspaper report said, “Afsana has jumped over the wall. The gender wall that her mother had put up for her.” Think and write in your own words, what was this wall? What do you understand by ‘gender bias’?