The rural district of Anantapur receives active support from Rural Development Trust (RDT) and its Anantapur Sports Academy program, with the prime idea being the encouragement of sporting activity for everyone with particular importance to women’s sports.
A highlight of this would be the success of Sports Leagues for Girls namely for the Anantapuram Football League (AFL) and the Ananta Premier League (APL) for Cricket since the last two years. Where women’s sport has been actively encouraged with as many as 22 and nine teams participating respectively. These leagues have also promoted the interest of non-playing women to be actively involved in the sport as part of the team management.
A particular case that brought the concept of women in sport for success to the fray with great ease was the Kalyandurg mandal team of the AFL that stepped into the competition with an all women team management and support staff roster. This team with their coach in young Anjali Devi Mekala supported by her senior and mentor G Radhamma as team manager, not only shamed stereotypes but also quashed misconceptions of women being less effective in coaching roles.
Twenty year old Anjali is currently pursuing her second year Degree college and is the older of two siblings with her younger brother pursuing his first year of intermediate education. Anjali’s father works at a petrol station to make ends meet, while her mother looks after the house.
Anjali has credits of representing her state U17 and U19 football teams at national tournaments in Pune and Goa respectively. Unable to participate in the inaugural AFL for girls U18 last year, Anjali decided to step up to the bar and take up the responsibility of coaching her side. She did so without any financial assistance, all for the love for the game.
Seeing this promise from Anjali, RDT decided to support her grow further as a coach. She travelled to Mumbai with another five female and 4 male coaches for an All India Football Federation (AIFF) ‘D’ License coaching course.
Anjali says “Football has strengthened my leadership and organizational capabilities. I think that football has helped me to develop my social skills as well, especially with the boys, because we would usually train together at the same time. It has also helped me to develop my logical thinking. Thanks to the support of our trainers, we are now more aware of the opportunities that we have as women in sport.”
Her former coach P. Dada Khalandar shares “Anjali Devi is ambitious and is already setting long-term goals to coach at higher levels in the future. She has become a role model to many young girls in Kalyandurg and inspires them to participate in football in the region. We hope through our program we inspire many such youngsters and play a supporting role in their progress to a better future.”