Enter the WE Coach program. The objective was not just to train coaches, but also fostering an environment where transformative change-makers can thrive. The girls are taught about gender equality and equity, women empowerment, and creating safe spaces.
Lhakpa recounts the annual Lhosar football tournament in her village where, originally, only male football teams were allowed to play. When Lhakpa took the issue up with the organisers, they finally allowed her and the girls to form two teams after much demurral.
“It started with two teams,” she adds. “But every year the number only grows, and more girls participate.”
Lhakpa feels proud to see the girls passionate about playing sports. “Their attitude towards the game has changed,” she says. “And they have learnt to prioritise enjoying and learning over the outcome.”
Punam says perceptions are changing and her father has learnt to cook and no longer asks her to stay back to take care of the chores when she goes out to play.
Program director at WE United, Silika Shakya, adds: “If my daughter grows up seeing me play, she will learn that she can too. A woman playing sports should not be something out of the ordinary, it should happen in every household.”
Arpana Pradhan says, “We are not competing with men, but with ourselves. If they have the right to play, why not us? We are also playing to have fun. Women playing and coaching creates positive role models across many careers. All women can be leaders, sports is just a tool.”