By Aakash Kumar
New Delhi [India], March 8 (ANI) India women cricketer Neha Tanwar believes female athletes still face a lot of stereotypes in the country because of the societal norms, a trend she hopes will change in the days to come.
Tanwar -- who has represented the Indian team in five ODIs and seven T20Is so far -- feels societal norms in most parts of the country still don't allow women to feel empowered.
"The societal norm in most parts of India dictates something that is not allowing women in this country to feel empowered," said the 34-year-old on the occasion of International Women's Day.
"I would call myself privileged to have such a supporting family. They have always supported me and given me the opportunity to dream big. That doesn't mean I have never faced a challenge," she added.
Tanwar started her career as a cricketer from her college days back in 2004 and made her international debut in 2011. She has also been a part of the India Red Women, Railways.
"I got a job in Allahabad, a city in Uttar Pradesh. Life became very monotonous after that. Making time for practice and the gym became harder every day. But I didn't give up and still represented India at the international level," said the Steadfast athlete.
Tanwar, who has also played more than 100 first-class matches, feels stories of star athletes like Hima Das, Mary Kom, Mithali Raj and others can serve as a great motivation for young female athletes aspiring to represent the country in the field of sports.
"Stories of great female athletes like Hima Das, Mary Kom, Phogat sisters, Mithali Raj who I have played with and many more have passed huge barriers to be who they are today. Be it the barrier of diversity, opposition from family and loved ones, stigma from the society etc," said the Indian cricketer.
"They are an inspiration to so many young girls. We have Bollywood movies made on their lives. I would say that almost every female athlete in this country still faces a lot of stereotypes that are completely illogical and most of them are because of society. I know things have changed for the better in the past decade but the pace of that change has to change too. I hope for a better future for the female athletes to be," she pointed.
Dalima Chhibber, a member of the Indian women's football team, also recalled how she had to hear stereotypical comments in her growing years, but her family always supported her passion for football.
"I am very fortunate and grateful to have a family and parents that always supported my dreams and my passion for football. But growing up I always heard and was told that there was nothing in football," said Chhibber who captained FC Pune City in the Indian Women's League in 2017.
"Also, I was often told that I would get hurt (considering I was a girl), also that I should focus more on my academics than playing football. All of these comments and behaviours usually came from my extended family or people around me, the society. There were fewer opportunities back then to play and participate as compared to now. We have come a long way," she added. (ANI)