Inspiration

Meet Sanjay Pathak, The Teacher Who Brought Revolution in Bihar Girls’ Sports

Team ScooNews
Meet Sanjay Pathak, The Teacher Who Brought Revolution in Bihar Girls’ Sports

In the 21st century, there are still villages in India that do not let girls choose sports as a career and even put restrictions on the kinds of sportswear they don. One such village was in Siwan district of Bihar, but a single teacher with a lot of determination and love for his students has managed to change the course.

Sanjay Pathak is a 45-year-old geography teacher at a government school in Siwan. When he saw 2 girls in 2009 participate in panchayat sports tournaments and win gold in racing, he realised what was lacking for these female students. Opening a sports academy only for women soon became his mission as he realised the potential these girls had and the lack of opportunities they were bound to face because of their gender. Even though he did not know much about sports, he still made efforts and cleared his ancestral land in Laxmipur village to set up the Rani Laxmibai Sports Club. "Although I am not a sports teacher, I decided I would hone these students’ sporting skills and help them reach international levels,” Pathak told The Hindu. Many of the skills Pathak uses to teach these girls are learnt on YouTube.

Today, these girls are taught hockey, rugby, football, handball, athletics, ball badminton, and throwball. He has also started to make an artificial sand ground in the village for beach-ball. Pathak spends 25% of his salary towards the club that is a little smaller than a football ground and has a hostel for 20 girls. He provides them with food and kits but still worries it is not enough. “They should get at least four slices of bread, jam, butter, two bananas and an egg for breakfast but I can only provide dalia (porridge) in the morning and egg once a week,” he says. “Sometimes I worry if I am harming these girls because they don’t get the nutrition they need.” Although over the time many villagers and well-wishers have come forward with funding, it still seems a long way to go. According to Pathak, since they do not receive any government aid, it is difficult for these kids to become the best they can be.

His virtuous act was as difficult as it comes, he was opposed by the village elders and parents did not listen to him. His club's practise ground was often stalked by village’s unsocial elements who would torment the girls. They would pass cheap comments, play even cheaper songs and throw bottles on the ground. But none of that deviated Pathak from building a safe place for girls to become the athlete they wanted to be. “I was determined to fight. I used to clean up everything the next morning and start again,” he says. One of the villagers said, “Initially Pathakji’s dream sounded like madness to us, but now we all are very happy with his initiative. We are proud of the girls’ achievement because their victories have become international news, and the club is also a matter of pride for our village, district and state.”

This academy has so far given many successful national and international players to our country. Today, a majority of his students are self-reliant financially after bagging government jobs via sports, making their village and families proud. But Pathak’s dream is bigger, he says, “I want to start a trust like Mohun Bagan [Football Club] and bring in people from other states as well. The academy should keep growing even after I am gone.”

This simple teacher has created something unimaginable for many girls of Siwan, Bihar. What an inspiring achievement, isn't it?

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