Ramesh sympathises with the plight of U-13 football girls
Ranchi: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday appeared helpless at the future of two members of India`s Under-13 football team and nudged two senior government officials "to do something" to brighten up their careers.
"They are international footballers (sic)!" asked Ramesh surprisingly after co-coach of the Yuwa football team, Sandeep Chettri, introduced him to Shivani Toppo and Manisha Tirkey who represented India in an Under-13 football tournament in Sri Lanka.
"They have represented India, and what are your future plans to nurture their talent?" asked Ramesh and suggested Chettri to arrange "special camps" for them.
"Let Franz (Gastler) come," replied Chettri at Ormanjhi on the outskirts of the city. The girls are trained by American Franz Gastler.
"`My Yuva India` will bring more laurels in future," a beaming 13-year-old Rinki Kumar said even as Chettri introduced the team as `Yuwa` to the minister.
Moved by the condition of the lean and hungry looking girls numbering over a dozen, the Union Rural Development Minister asked them whether they were getting regular midday meals in schools.
But he was speechless, when half of them said, "We don`t get midday meals."
Ranchi Deputy Commissioner Vinay Choubey intervened saying those not getting midday meals are reading in private schools, which don`t come under the government`s scheme.
The Yuwa team girls, who finished third in a tournament in Spain in July, giggled when Ramesh asked them how they matched the physically superior European teams.
But the girls quietly showed the minister and others their dribbling skills and back heal passes that fetched them the third position among 10 teams in the Gasteiz U-14 girls` football tournament played in Spain in July.
Ramesh, who spent about 45 minutes with them, urged Inspector General of Police Anurag Gupta, who was a former sports director in Jharkhand, to help out the girls in shaping their career.
"The police department has a quota for sports persons after they achieve a certain level," the IG said and assured that he would do something for the girls.
When Gupta said the little tribal girls are naturally built for sports, Ramesh said, "Till 1970s hockey was dominated by Jalandhar players and there after we heard names like (Manohar) Topno, (Sylvanus) Dungdung, (Michael) Kindo, (Dilip) Tirkey and other tribal players."
Ramesh was also not pleased when Chettri informed him that the two India internationals and another girl had some problems at a camp ahead of the Sri Lanka visit.
"I am depressed after seeing and listening (to their problems)," Ramesh retorted to a reporter when asked whether he was impressed spending time with the promising players.
The union minister, however, could solve one of their several problems when he announced Rs 10 lakh for the purchase of a mini bus to enable their transport facility.
When one of the girls drew his attention that the ground on which they were playing has been ploughed for agriculture, Ramesh asked the deputy commissioner to arrange for a temporary ground till the permanent stadium was built in the Ormanjhi Block.