Young, special, on the ball and ripping apart the net in Spain

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Two weeks ago a group of teenage girls from a village on the outskirts of Ranchi in Jharkhand achieved something that sportspersons with the best facilities and support in cities often aspire for but don’t always succeed.

On July 13, the 18 tribal girls representing Yuwa India under-14 all-girls team were placed third among 10 teams playing for the Gasteiz Cup in Victoria Gasteiz in Spain. The girls — a majority of whom played outside their village in Ormanjhi for the first time — were placed third after two wins, two losses, and one draw against international teams. Earlier during the Donosti Cup, Spain’s biggest football tournament, the girls made it to quarter finals from among 36 international teams.

The young footballers wearing red and white sarees and sneakers, with plastic flowers adorning their hair and around their wrists, were ecstatic as they won the third prize in Gasteiz, Spain that Saturday night.

“We had carried sarna sarees in our bags and some flowers too. When they announced our names we ran into the dressing room and took just five minutes to get dressed in our sarees, then we came out and accepted the prize and then we danced,” grinned Rinky Kumari, 13, the team’s captain back in Ormanjhi. “Yuwa yuwa hum hai yuwa, sab se juda; gendwa ko maarei, netwa ko phaade, mil ke bolo Jai Yuwa (We are young, so special; we are on the ball, we attack the net; all hail Yuwa),” the team breaks into chorus before practice on Thursday afternoon.

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