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An inclusive goal for Manipur’s transgender football

Taking pride:  The transgender football team participating in the Queer Games in Manipur.

Taking pride: The transgender football team participating in the Queer Games in Manipur.

Followers of football in India are unlikely to have heard of Nick, Silleibi and Lem. But they have created history by becoming the captain, goalkeeper and striker of arguably the first transgender football team in the country.

“Having a team of our own was beyond imagination. I am so happy,” said Nick after Ya All, an Imphal-based NGO, put together the team. The launch last week at an event named the Queer Games coincided with the onset of Yaoshang, Manipur’s version of Holi, the festival of colours.

“We wish to be a part of State, national and international level football tournaments under the transgender category. We hope other players come out so that we can compete, improve ourselves and create strong transgender teams,” said Chaki, the team’s vice-captain.

Coming out despite social stigma has been the hardest part for transmen, transwomen and other categories of queer people, Ya All’s founder-president Sadam Hanjabam said. The NGO works to empower youth and the queer community through life skills, and capacity-building.

“Given the popularity of football in Manipur, we have had transgender and non-transgender people playing in mixed groups. We tried to form a team of transwomen (male to female transsexual) but failed due to social factors. The team for transmen worked,” Mr. Hanjabam told The Hindu from Imphal.

Ya All sowed the seeds of the team two years ago by organising six-a-side football matches for the transgender community. Most of the members of the team are students of physical education and used to play football. The challenge now is to ensure a support system and bring coaches on board.

“It is difficult to get experts to improve the skills of our players. But we hope people will soon get over their prejudices,” Mr. Hanjabam said.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 7:09:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/an-inclusive-goal-for-manipurs-transgender-football/article31085409.ece