Manipur have created history by putting together India’s first all-transgender football team, a first-of-its-kind in the history of Indian Football. Defeating all the odds and coming out despite social stigma, the transmen, transwomen and other categories of queer people helped in the formation of the 14-member outfit. An Imphal-based NGO Ya All sowed the seeds of the team two years ago by organising six-a-side football matches for the transgender community. Also Read - Delhi Police Arrests Man Who Spat, Hurled Racial Slurs at Manipuri Woman
All the members of the transgender team was in action earlier this month on International Women’s Day (March 8). The 14 players were divided into two teams of seven each as they played a friendly match during Ya All’s NorthEast Queer Games. Also Read - Coronavirus: Sunil Chhetri Chosen For FIFA Campaign Along With Lionel Messi to Fight Against COVID-19
Ecstatic on the achievement, Chaki Huidrom, team’s vice-captain, wants to represent the country in ther transgender category. She hopes this one-of-its-kind initiative will help more players to come out without worrying about their gender.“We wish to be a part of State, national and international level football tournaments under the transgender category. We hope other players come out so that we can compete, improve ourselves and create strong transgender teams,” Chaki was quoted by The Hindu. Also Read - COVID-19: Man Spits at Manipuri Woman in Delhi, Calls Her 'Corona'; FIR Registered
Ya All’s founder-president Sadam Hanjabam shared the story of the historic transgender football side. He wants to see more transgender people to come out and play the sport.
“Given the popularity of football in Manipur, we have had transgender and non-transgender people playing in mixed groups. We tried to form a team of transwomen (male to female transsexual) but failed due to social factors. The team for transmen worked,” Mr. Hanjabam said.
Most of the members of the team are physical education students and loves to play football as a hobby. The challenge now is to ensure a support system and bring coaches on board.
“It is difficult to get experts to improve the skills of our players. But we hope people will soon get over their prejudices,” Mr Hanjabam said.
In future, Sadam wants the Union government to have a transgender section in all sports events. “The Central government has recognised the transgender community. But more needs to be done. They need recognition in all fields. We want the government to open up a transgender category in all sports events.”
The team is led by Nick (striker) and comprise Chaki (vice-captain, striker), Puja (goalkeeper), Silleibi (goalkeeper), Nellie (mid-fielders), Max, Thoi L, Sanathoi, Lem ( striker), KK, Lala (defender), Christina, Thoi S and Miller.