Changing the nation one school, one classroom, one game at a time!!!

Jan. 31, 2021

As soon as the final school bell rings, Kabita rushes towards the school ground, gears up and holds a bat, and starts practice batting with her classmates. Farhan – her coach, gives her instructions on how to take the shots. Farhan Akhter and Kabita Kumari Sah are classmates in seventh grade in Shree Nepal Rastriya Secondary School Nichuta, a small community 21km west of Birgunj metropolitan city. 

Kabita is the captain of her newly formed cricket team of 11 girls. 

“For Farhan and the boys in school, this isn’t much of a big deal as the community thrives on cricket,” says Sandhya, who is an English teaching Fellow. “But for the girls, the journey has taken several months of persistent push,” she adds. 

“A particular day during a boys’ cricket game at school, girls were sitting beside just watching it. There were extra bats nearby. I asked some of the girls from grade nine to go ahead and try to take a shot. They all just laughed at first but then a few of them picked up the bat. After few minutes, we could hear roars of laughter coming from the other side of the playground. Boys were mocking the girls because of the way they were holding the bat. The girls were immediately taken aback and started feeling low. I went towards them and said, - if you leave this bat today, they are going to mock you every single day. If you really trust yourself just play. Go for it”. - Sandhya

But, it was not that simple. Girls in most of our community think that cricket is a game for physically fit people – which for them are boys, not girls. This was a mindset Sandhya and Bishal, a science teaching Fellow, set out to challenge. 

Sandhya and Bishal started physical fitness training. The fun part of it was that the girls realized how they were already very fit. After all, the chores that had been doing at home are no less than rigorous workouts. 

But every time, the girls were out in the fields, the boys mocked the girls. 

One day Sandhya walked up to them and asked the boys why they were laughing. 

They replied: girls cannot play cricket. 

Sandhya asked them: you all can play right?

They said yes. 

Sandha asked them again: You all can play very well, right?

They immediately answered: Yes we have won several matches.  

 “I will consider you all as the best players when you can teach these girls to play like you all did.” 

The boys, to Sandhya’s surprise, took up the challenge.

The next day, Sandhya found the boys with the girls in the field training them on different tricks and moves in cricket. 

A week later, a friendly cricket match was organized. The boys seemed to have put a lot more energy into making the match successful. The boys had coached both the boys’ and girls’ teams.

“At some point during the match, I could hear the voices of girls loudly cheering. Those voices for some reason lifted my spirit. It sounded like freedom,” Sandhya shares in her reflection. 

Girls, throughout several generations, have had to cross many barriers to simply attend schools. People in the community, to this day, believe that being allowed to attend school in itself is a huge privilege for girls. But Sandhya knows that her girls have much more to strive and thrive for than merely exist in the school. 

Kabita Kumari Sah, the captain of the girls’ cricket team shares “Every time I would watch boys play cricket, I wanted to play as well. But we never had a chance to be in the games before and I never thought that I could play cricket in front of the boys! We did not believe in ourselves, but now we do.”    

After the completion, Sandhya went straight to the boys and asked them how they felt about the match. Ilhan, one of the boys who helped coach the girls, responded: “I succeeded in helping them overcome their fears”. 

Farhan said, “They wanted to learn. They have never talked to me and asked for any other favor but this time it was different, they came and asked for help and I couldn’t deny.”

“The game changed all of us in so many different ways,” says Sandhya with pride and contentment.


Sandhya and Bishal are among the 138 Fellows who are in their second year of Teach For Nepal Fellowship. Prior to joining Teach For Nepal Fellowship, Sandhya completed her Bachelor’s of Arts from Itahari Namuna College, Nepal while Bishal completed his Bachelor’s of Agricultural Engineering from Eastern Regional Campus. You can support our Fellows like Sandhya and Bishal by supporting their work and supporting Teach For Nepal movement.

 

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