Former Captain Sona Chaudhary Explains Why It's Tough To Be A Woman Footballer In India

13/05/2016 10:47 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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It's not easy to be a woman, especially when it comes being an athlete in a field that is dominated by men.

In a shocking revelation, former Indian women's football team captain Sona Chaudhary has made serious allegations against the sport's administrators in her recently launched book.

Chaudhary said female athletes were exploited by the team management, the coach, and the secretary. There was lack of coaching and corruption was rampant during the time she was playing.

Chaudhary, who claims to have played for India between 1994 and 1998, has made the allegations in her book titled 'Game in Game'. The book is written in Hindi.

The first time Chaudhary came across an incident of possible sexual exploitation was during a national event, where she was captaining the Haryana team.

Her teammates told her about a player from another state team who had gone to them, seeking help.

“On probing more, I learnt that she was told that there was a press conference and needed to be there at a hotel. However, there was no press conference and upon reaching the hotel, the player was told that she had to ‘compromise’ with a state association official if she wanted selection in the Indian team,” she told Sportskeeda in an interview.

Chaudhary said that the player was never seen after that tournament.

In an interview with Dainik Bhaskar, Chaudhary revealed that on foreign tours, the coach and secretary would ask that their beds be placed in the rooms of the female players and this would continue despite their protest.

She also said coaches refused to train her for a very bizarre reason. “Coaches refused because they fear being linked romantically to the player and spoiling their reputation in the society,” she said.

Speaking to PTI, she recalled how the women were treated back then.

"I have not accused any specific person or organisation, I have brought out the deficiencies in the system. How the women footballers were treated badly, how they were given accommodation during tournaments and during tours, what kind of diets they were given, how they fought the odds," said Chaudhary.

Alleging a rampant corrutption in the entire system, Chaudhary said the athletes had to buy their own kits and pay for their own food while going to tournaments in other states. "The state association did not pay any money for food and sometimes we had to stay hungry due to lack of money," she said.

She, however, denied that the women players had to pretend that they had relationship among themselves as lesbians to escape sexual harassment from officials.

"It is a wrong statement I have not written that in my book. I had said that it was a game played within the game of football," she said.

Talking more about the book, she said: "Today we have a support system in the game. But in our time we didn't. I have written about the things that are spoiling the system. We have suffered a lot as players but I don't want the same for upcoming players. Whatever hardships we faced during our time, I have penned it in my book".

Sources in All India Football Federation (AIFF) said that they are first finding out whether she played for India and if she didn't, the governing body will take strict action against her.

(With inputs from PTI)

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