Mixed gender football tournament aims to tackle gender issues

Subrat Mohanty

Sambalpur: A mixed gender football tournament, which is being organized to raise awareness on gender equality, is drawing attention of all. Each team participating in the tournament has at least 50% women players.

While 10 league matches of the mixed gender tournament, Samata cup, which is being organized by the social organisation, Patang, have already been held, the final match will be held at the 4C ground in the city on November 17.

According to organisers, the objective of the tournament is to create awareness among the people about gender equality.  As many as 10 teams of Maneswar, Jujumura and Dhankauda block area of the district took part in the tournament.  At least 7 to 8 women players were there in each team in the tournament. The semi-finals of the tournaments were held on November 10.

Recognizing the potential challenges arising from the traditionally male-centric and aggressive nature of football, the organizers conducted several rounds of the discussions with the players before the commencement of the tournament.   Emphasizing the need for understanding and cooperation, training sessions were conducted to ensure that every team member has equal opportunities to play and encourage one another.

Chief executive officer (CEO) of Patang, Rita Mishra said, many programmes focus on women to address gender based inequality. However, the fact is that even the males are also affected by the prejudices. Hence, to create awareness on gender equality, it is imperative to work with males along with the females. Since football is a popular sport in rural areas, we planned to capitalise on its popularity by organising a mixed gender tournament. This event  serves as a platform to create awareness to eradicate gender inequality, she said.

Mishra further said, the gender mixed football tournament is an effort to provide opportunities to the participants to engage in discussions surrounding gender equality issues. The event is creating a space for dialogue and understanding the pertinent issues, she said.