Football and Friendship
Differences is not what Amisha and Champa talk about. It’s been a year that both have been practicing football together. Passing and shooting is what they often discuss. Champa recognizes her strength to be a mid-fielder. The opportunity of preparing for an event like the Unified Cup 2022 has deepened their bond through common anxieties of travelling overseas for the first time and representing India, jointly. Coming from a common region, common challenges have touched both.
Amisha 19 yrs is a girl from a remote area in the state of Bihar, participating in sports and that too one which is linked more with males. She was born with Multiple disabilities that includes speech impairment with learning disability. Having gone through challenges like a father who was alcohol-dependent, belonging to an orthodox belt that has no one having gone ever for football. Before joining sports Amisha was often stopped as no one could understand a reason for her being part of sports. But, her parents supported her decisions, allowing her to play and also complete her education through Open Schooling.
Her journey through sports started way back in 2007 when the district Coach identified her and introduced her to Athletics. In 2015 she participated in 100 mtr run. She was trained in Cricket and Football too. In 2020, she participated in the SOAP Virtual Football Competition held in July 2021 winning a Gold Medal and marking a spot in female football in India. Amisha started to take regular football training and got enrolled in Rani Laxmibai Sports Academy under Coach Sanjay Pathak. The academy is a residential facility for girls only. Amisha has been staying there for a year now.
She used to bike her way to the Patna stadium, where she practiced earlier. Sandeep , Area Director SO Bharat Bihar, has personally trained her in Athletics, Cricket etc. “ The change in her is drastic. She keeps and looks fit, she is confident and has learnt the skills well. In the by-lanes when she plays , people around her stop to see her play. She looks like an Athlete and has been receiving focused football training for two years now”
It is at the Rani Laxmibai Sports Academy that Amisha met her Unified partner, Champa, pursuing first year in a Bachelors degree in the humanitarian stream. Her mother is a home maker while her father is a construction site laborer. Champa dreamt of football since childhood. “ I have always wanted to be someone in sports” , says she. In 2016 she joined the Sports academy which is very close to her house. She battled negative comments on her choice of sport, sports clothing etc.
The preparation for the Unified Cup has strengthened her focus on footballing skills. The two practice together and have also attended a few camps together. Over time she has learnt how to communicate with Amisha despite the fact that she can’t speak. They communicate virtually as well.
Champa would never have got an opportunity to travel overseas. She says that it is Amisha who has given wings to her passion. Football has exposed her to an intellectual disability but it is something that doesn’t have to be spelt categorically. They practice, play, discuss, learn & have fun together.