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Football for Freedom is an initiative conceived & put into action by Jabala in 2006 to popularize the concept of Sports as a healer for survivors of violence and adolescent girls from vulnerable families with an aim to empower them & build confidence to face challenges of life and prevent Violence Against Girls

The program started in three blocks of Murshidabad viz. Jalangi, Hariharpara & Beldanga-II. 323Girls of these three blocks participated in a three day camps organised in each of the blocksunder the coaching of Kuntala Ghosh Dastidar (Coach & Ex Captain of Indian Football Team). Fromthe camps 110 girls, Jalangi( 35), Hariharpara(50), and Beldanga-II(25) were selected for further training. Finally 50 players were chosen for the team.

Why Football

Football is one of the popular sports in rural Bengal, but used as tool can act wonders as girls get immediate recognition that boosts school retention, and bringing out leaders in them who in turn caninfluence other girls to stand up for their rights. Football is used as a therapy for those tryingto put their lives together after years of abuse or who have been sidelined by society due to their being social status or stigma. The game helps girls not only to gain fitness but also acts as an instrument of empowerment. It helps to boost their morale and lead a healthy life. With the help and support Football for Freedom can extend its operations to directly influence and help people at grassroot level promoting harmony and prosperity in hard to reach and social deprived areas.

Target Group

  • Survivors of gender &social violence
  • Drop out girls
  • Adolescent girls from 11 – 17 years from vulnerable families


  1. Confidence building & empowerment of survivors and adolescent girls from BPL (Below Poverty Line Population) to resist Trafficking and Child Marriage & break gender barriers
  2. Build community awareness on Rights violation
  3. Registering girls as regular player of IFA (Indian Football Association) for futureadvancement in careers


  1. Beneficiary Selection:
    • Survivors of social violence of three blocks Jalangi, Hariharpara, &  Beldanga
    • The girls from BPL( Below Poverty Line) families who are at risk of facing social challenges.
    • Creation of interest Bank from the girls.
  2. Sensitization sessions
    • Sensitization meeting with families of the participants to brief the Goal of the program.
    • Interaction with Government Stake holders, like Police, Block Development Officer, Panchayat Functionaries.
  3. Residential Camps for Selection of Players
    • Two seven day residential camps with selected beneficiaries.
    • Selection of players from field & class room sessions
  4. Practice Sessions

    Tri Weekly practice sessions under trained coaches Ms. Swati Gupta & Mr. Chandan Ram
    The following patterns are followed during practice:

    • Free hand exercise
    • Stretching
    • Jogging
    • Run
    • Cone exercise.
    • Twister, hurdle , zig-zag through cone.
    • In swing and out swing with ball.
    • Cone to cone spin
    • Push – pass
    • Ball receiving by chest, thigh and head.
    • Spot jump and heading.
    • Practice game between two teams
  5. Sessions with Girls
    • Sessions on Gender & Violence against Women
    • Showing Video clips on football
  6. Maintenance & Upkeep of the playing fields

    Three fields have been selected in three blocks and maintained.

    • Hariharpara Police ground
    • Jalangi High School play ground
    • Beldanga, Dadpur High School play ground
  7. Purchase of materials, like football, jerseys, cones etc for the participants
  8. Exposures & Participation in different tournaments

Major Changes Noticed

  • The dress code of the girls changed from churidar with head covered with dupatta ( traditional dress ) to jerseys
  • Started practicing along with boys overcoming initial shyness
  • Started training under male coach
  • Reluctance to play outside the village in initial days to playing in League organized by IFA (Indian Football Association)& open to playing in any place and often spends night in different camps organized in various locations.
  • Support from Families specially fathers and Government stake holders
  • 98% of the girls challenged their early marriages and were retained in schools

Major Achievements

  • 11 girls are registered as players with IFA (Indian Football Association) - Index/code No.470- 480 and playing in the Women league since 2007
  • Superintendent of Police(Murshidabad) issued circulars to allow the ground of HariharparaPolice Station to be used as play ground and instructed the police stations to extend all possible support
  • Jersey Exchange program with ASR club of Netherlands
  • Invitation to participate in different tournaments like prestigious Subroto Cup and winning district tournament
Participation Details in 2015 Results
Subroto Cup (Intra District)- Football Champion
Subroto Cup (Inter District) Lost in Semifinal
Murshidabad Football Tournament Champion
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Avijan Runners Up
Shikarpur Football Tournament(Nadia) Runners Up
Karimpur Football Tournament(Nadia) Lost in Semifinal
Diamond Harbour Football Tournament(South 24Paraganas) Lost in Quarter Finals
  • 1Selection of a girl to be trained in Germany
  • 04 Girls selected for National Team Trial in 2015
  • Media Attention on the success & novelty of the program

Putting their best foot forward

The beautiful game of football is now giving the much-needed boost to the self-confidence of young girls in Murshidabad. Shiv Sahay Singh takes a look

At a time when there is so much euphoria over World Cup 2010 — perhaps the biggest sporting event in the world — in faraway Bengal's border district of Murshidabad young minority girls are trying to assert their freedom through football.

In the three blocks of Jalangi, Hariharpara and Beldanga where girls always run the risk of being trafficked or sold or lured by jobs elsewhere, football has come as an instrument of empowerment and it is giving the much-needed boost to the self-confidence of these young girls.

  • Government officials & Clubs use the program as an even to raise awareness on Girl Child Rights in the area. Example Khela Mela organized by Government of West Bengal.
  • Getting job in sports quota as Home Guard in Kolkata Police Department
  • Spreading of the program to other district Jalpaiguri at Dumdim Tea estate and Kolkata(Kalabagan Slum)

Case Study

Kalpana a 19 year old girl was married of at the age of 14 when she was in class VIII but came back to her parents house due to problems faced at inlawsplace after a year. She heard about the program from her friends and was willing to join but her parents wrre reluctant, but after repeated home visitsand counselling her father relented. Kalpana was with the team for three. She had a dream of becoming police and to serve the nation and theopportunity came when she was engaged as Home Guard with Kolkata Police after clearing written and passing physicaal test. Klapana now ears Rs12000.00per month and a bread earner for her family

  • Father's Name: Akhtar Ali Mondal
  • Mother's Nmae: Kohinoor Bibi
  • Location: Hariharpara, Murshidabad