Marian Wright Edelman once said, “Education is improving the lives of others and for leaving your world and community better than you found it.” Exemplifying these words, a woman from Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh founded the Yadava Sports Karate Welfare Society in 2016 to make a difference in society. This woman was Neha Yadav who had been teaching self defence to innumerable girls and women since 2008.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Proudly, she tells us, “Yadava Sports Karate Welfare Society teaches important lessons and qualities of sports through self-defence to every class of society including children and adults. We train individuals to have a disciplined mind and a healthy body which helps them to be socially self-sufficient. Thousands of girls are given education through self-defence and leadership training, religious and social activities. They are also taught about employment, discrimination, the difference between good touch and bad touch, gender equality, women's empowerment, and social inclusion. We train our players for Division, State, National, and International level games for free. They receive medals and honours at the national and international level; they have also been honoured by the President. I’m filled with pride to tell you that we have trained more than 13,000 children.”
“As a child, I was always interested in sports but never got any support since I belong to a conservative family. What troubled me more was their thinking; they would always ask us to focus our attention on academics rather than sports. Whereas I always saw boys being active in both sports and academics but no one minded that. I wanted to change this thinking and prove that girls can become good sportspersons and achieve heights. When I saw girls were being harassed, it was my call to learn and teach Karate and Taekwondo. I fought with my family to go and participate in the State and National level games. However, my family started believing in me and my game when they saw my photograph in the newspapers with my medals and trophies. I feel grateful for what I have achieved with my family’s and best friend Ritesh Tiwari’s support,” says Yadav.
“One of the major challenges was to get a ground for our classes since the grounds were occupied for other games such as cricket. After struggling to get a venue, we began organising our classes on roads. However, even on roads we were disturbed by the colony residents or drunken people, resulting in feuds almost every day. A ray of hope came when we got a small space in an indoor stadium,” she reminisces her journey.
“We didn’t have money to buy sports equipment since we never took any fee. To solve this problem, I started training children with stones, trees, wall etc. Despite requesting several ministers and the sports department, we received no help. From the little money I could save from training in schools, we bought the equipment and gave the country international players.
“With relentless and untiring efforts and confidence, we eliminated our shortcomings and continue to believe in this attitude to carry our mission forward. My dream is to see our children represent and lead the country in the Olympic games. I wish that every child is self-dependent and every woman and girl in this country has strength and self-confidence through self-defence and feels safe and respected. I also wish to open a sports school that provides free education to every child,” she adds.
As part of her inspiring message, she says, “As a team, we have always believed in motivating others to do what we are doing. We have constantly motivated our students to start their own classes as well. We want people to see us, get inspired and bring change in our society. Through training camps, programmes such as cleanliness campaign and de-addiction campaign, free classes and sending our team to different places, we wish to awaken selfreliance in our society.”
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