Mumbai, Feb 25 (IANS) The issues and problems affecting women in sports in the country came up for discussion with Olympian wrestler Vinesh Phogat focussing on sexual harassment faced by women sportspersons and badminton star Jwala Gutta pointing at the lack of a proper attitude towards female athletes.
Former sprinter and Olympian Ashwini Nachappa pointed at the need for change in the mindset of administrators and in the governance of sports.
All these issues were raised during the ‘Fight like a Woman – Guts, Grit and Glory’ session during the second edition of ABP’s ‘Ideas of India’ summit here.
Speaking on the occasion, Arjuna Awardee and Commonwealth gold winner, Vineesh Phogat opened up about her own struggles of sexual misconduct that goes unnoticed in the field of sports.
“Every day was an internal battle to not let powerful people break you with their antics and torture,” she said.
After playing at a senior position for several years, she added “I felt in a secure position to be able to speak about the issues so girls at the start of their career don’t face what I had to go through.”
Vinesh believed that “A clean-up of society is essential for women to flourish in sports and speak about sexual misconduct.”
Jwala Gutta, also spoke about her struggles in the #MeToo movement.
“I was threatened where ultimately I had to knock on the doors of the High Court,” she said.
“Sports in our country is considered as a good hobby or habit for girls until you win a medal, and then suddenly you become ‘Bharat ki Beti’,” added Jwala, Arjuna Awardee and Commonwealth Games gold medal winner.
The panel was further enlightened by Nachappa, former international athlete and Arjuna Awardee, who spoke about the evolution in sports over the past few decades.
“I think the process of a complete overhaul of the sports federation has begun as we see a lot more women across the sports board,” she said.
In 2010, she started the ‘Clean Sports India Movement’ with 8-9 other sportspersons to speak about the issues in the federation.
The Indian hockey player, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam and the Pro Squash player and Arjuna Awardee and Commonwealth gold Winner, Joshna Chinappa also highlighted the positive change they witnessed.
“We have come a long way from when we started out,” they said.
Further commenting on the changes required in the sports administration in India, Nachappa said, “Its important that more professionals come into the management of sports, under an umbrella that is autonomous, which actually manages and holds federations accountable.”
Adding to this, Vinesh said, “If a sportsperson or professional leads the federation, it can create a positive impact on the industry as they understand the needs of an athlete and can even support them emotionally.”
A need for better coaches and support staff in the industry was also highlighted by the panel. “We need a good programme for coaches to overcome the lack of the same, only then we will be able make good athletes.”
The summit had an invigorating line-up of speakers with prominent figures from the world of business, politics, artists from the Hindi film industry, authors and other eminent sectors. The two-day event primarily addressed India’s stand as a burgeoning economy and global leader in shaping the future.