Yuwa, a Jharkhand-based NGO which works for girl empowerment, won the Laureus Sport for Good award, becoming the third Indian entry to bag the honour. The NGO, founded by Americans Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler in 2009, runs a football program in rural Jharkhand covering 450 girls. The girls are amateurs and, those who have been around for long, have become coaches. Four girls out of the 450 Hima, Nita, Radha and Konika received the award on behalf of Yuwa at the Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday.
An Indian sporting feat made its way to the Laureus Awards for the first time in 2004 when the Indian cricket team and its Pakistani counterpart shared the Sport for Good honour for resuming bilateral ties despite tensions between the two countries. Most recently, Magic Bus from India won the Laureus Sport for Good award in 2014.
On Sunday, none other than legendary coach Arsene Wenger kicked football with the young Indian girls ahead of the announcement.
“They are good technically and want to play together. We used to say football is a sport played by 11 selfish individuals but they play like a team and are highly motivated,” said Wenger.
Five-time Olympic champion swimmer Missy Franklin too was inspired by the story of the Indian girls who come from humble backgrounds and from a region where child marriage is prevalent.
“It is just so inspiring to hear their story and meet them. I am glad I could spend some time with them,” said the 23-year-old Franklin, who took a shock retirement from the sport in December last year.
Tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia won his fourth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year on Monday, and American record-holding gymnast Simone Biles bagged the World Sportswoman of the Year Award thanks to her dominant world championship performance last year.
Djokovic triumphed in tough competition against football star duo of Kylian Mbappe and Luka Modric, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, Kenyan marathon world record-breaker Eliud Kipchoge and NBA superstar LeBron James.
(With PTI Inputs)