As a football lover, playing with Sisters In Sweat was as good as a dream come true. Here’s my experience of playing with these lady-ballers of Bangalore!
My first encounter with football probably happened at the age of six. I was at my nani’s place and my elder cousin was on his way to play with his friends. And since I looked up to him, I wanted to go play! It was all I wanted- more than anything in the world (or so it seemed)
So when he was on his way, I stood in his way- all three foot of me and asked him to take me with him. He, obviously, refused. I did everything in my power to convince him and after a point, he just relented. On the one condition that I would be the goal keeper and only that (clearly he knew what a keeper I am)
And so, we set off- to my first ever football game. Obviously, I don’t remember much about the game, it WAS 20 years ago! However, it was fun and thus began my love for the game.
Football, thus, became a part of life. It was my way of connecting with my previously stoic and tacit dad. We’d watch a ton of matches together- late in the night, discussing goals and what they did wrong. The FIFA World Cup was our time. We’d sit at night, coffee cups in hand, supporting, quite often, opposing teams and cheering at each beautiful pass and perfect goal. Those, probably, are my best memories with him.
And then, when I moved out to pursue my Masters, I finally got to play the game once again. Those two to three hours of practice were the best ones I’d spent outside. Initially, I was hesitant of playing with girls because I hadn’t played with any until then. But one day of practice in and all my apprehensions went out the window! These ‘girls’ were fierce and knew the game. Sure, we all ran to the ball as a group and yes, none of our kicks were perfect but we had such few fouls and so many passes.
During the two years, my love only grew. The game became my way of connecting with people and also of feeling better about myself. Football was now an integral part of life. Even when I moved to the UK, it was a part of life. I thought of trying out for the University team but I realised I didn’t have that kind of time. However, I did play with the girls team quite often.
So, moving to Bangalore and not having football in my life was a big disappointment till my boss told me about Sisters In Sweat (SIS). Now for someone who’s new to the city, just going and joining a football club seemed like the most obvious thing to do and that was pretty much what I did.
I looked them up on Instagram, sent a message and after texting back and forth for a bit, et voila! They asked me to attend their next session on Thursday. These women practice twice a week- on Sundays for the beginners and Thursdays for more experienced players.
The next Thursday, after a long tiring day at work, I left for the Bangalore Football Stadium as that’s where the Intermediate sessions were held. And owing to Bangalore traffic and my own poor planning, I reached a little late. The session had already begun. I was a little annoyed at myself but I joined in. And boy was I glad I went!
The next two hours were the best of my life this year! Not only because I got to play after a year or so but simply because of the feeling of belonging it gave me. Since its inception two years ago, Sisters In Sweat is now a community of as much as 300 plus women!
Says Swetha Subbaih, one of the two founding members, “Some two years or so ago, one of my friends approached me to play some sport. And that was just when I’d done the Nike campaign with Tanvie. So I introduced my friend to Tanvie and she asked her if she’d coach her. Tanvie agreed but asked her to bring along some friends. So, Tanvie and I decided to structure the session a little. I decided to plan the warm up while Tanive, obviously planned the technical part of it. She looked at training them how to kick the ball around, the basic football drills before a small game.”
“We booked a small ground, expecting maybe five or six girls to show up because when we’d had the discussion, it seemed all fun and games. My friend was, obviously, going to bring her friends and I made a few calls, but we didn’t expect a lot of people to show up. However, on the Sunday, 17 girls showed up for the session.”
Swetha, a fitness instructor is one of the 12 women who featured in Nike’s Da Da Ding ad and the same campaign in 2016. She met Tanvie Hans, the pro-footballer during the same campaign.
Tanvie currently is the captain for Karnataka’s women football team and has played for English clubs including Tottenham Hotspurs and Fulham ladies teams. Watching Tanvie play is nothing short of watching poetry in motion. And while she coaches, she makes sure to be the most understanding coach ever. But don’t let that fool you for she is a force to be reckoned at on the field! She WILL crush you. Which, I believe, is exactly what a lady-baller is!
After their first session, the girls approached Tanvie and Swetha and asked them if they could do it every week since they’d enjoyed it so much! What was a fun session was now going to be a community. They made a group that day and from 17 women, they now have over 300 women playing with them now!
Both these women, with their knowledge of fitness and the sport decided to start Sisters In Sweat where women who loved the game or even wanted to learn it could do so without any judgement. The women who attend the sessions range from college students to working mothers wanting to play.
The community grew so much that last December, Adidas approached them to hold a Creators League where six teams were formed. Being sponsored by a brand as big as Adidas was something the girls could only dream of! And since then, the community has shown signs of only growing.
During my first session, I realised what a lovely community it was. They welcome new people with the same zeal and love as they do the old ones. They play together, they have fun together and they share a beautiful bond together. Even during the friendly matches at the end of each session, there is no rivalry between the teams. In fact, rival teams help each other with tips and tricks to score but will also stop it if the ball reaches them.
Says Jayanti, one of the first few members of SIS, “I was one of the first few members who joined the session and have been a part of SIS since its inception. I’ve literally seen the community grow! From a group of 10, we’ve now become a community of almost 300 women!
“Mind you, a few of us, started playing pretty late in our lives. I was 36 when I started playing. There are a few of us with kids. But here, we are all the same. I am so glad I joined it for these are the strongest, most fearless women I’ve seen. They’re happy playing under the sun at 10 in the morning or even under the moon at 9 in the night. This, to me, is the real sisterhood.”
And sisterhood it is! I don’t think I’ve experienced this kind of compassion and love among people. But I do understand what people mean when they say, ‘Nothing binds people better than a sport does!’
Currently, it is one of the few football clubs in Bangalore that cater to the football desires of women, SIS is planning to branch out to other sports too! Right from badminton to cricket, they have great plans for all the women in Bangalore- sportswomen or not.
So all you lady-ballers, here’s the link where you can find sisters who will definitely be there to help you kick the ball!
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Reader, writer and currently an Associate Editor at Women's Web, I survive on coffee
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