On the grounds of Delhi University’s Lakshmibai College, a group of students practise baseball for three hours every morning. On January 17, the Delhi women’s team had won the Senior National Baseball Championship — and eight of its members were from among these students. Three, including the captain, were alumni of the college.
The women of Lakshmibai College, located in Ashok Vihar, have distinguished themselves in baseball over the years, by emerging as champions of the inter-college baseball tournament which concluded this January. They won the title for the eighth consecutive year.
“What makes a lot of difference is that everything is looked after by the college, we get a lot of support. Our diet and class attendance is looked after, and we get extra academic help if required. All we have to do is work hard at the sport,” said Bhumika, a second-year BA programme student, who was part of the winning state team.
According to Ravinder Malik, who has been coaching the college team since 2006, many of the women who play baseball do not come from affluent families, while baseball is an expensive sport. This makes a strong support system necessary to enable their growth in the field. “All equipment is provided by the college. The players receive Rs 35 coupons every day to buy milk, juice and eggs for their nutrition. Without this support, many of the girls would not have been able to afford to play,” he said.
Faculty members also donate and pool together money to pay the annual fees of these women, which comes to Rs 8,000-10,000 for its BA, BCom and BSc courses. “These are not scholarships. This is something that faculty members have volunteered to participate in to free the girls from familial and financial pressure,” said Dr Sunita Arora, associate professor in the physical education department. adding that of the 200 student sportswomen, around 60 receive this financial support.
“It’s important for us that we can get training and play, while also getting help in academics because the degree is valuable. We get extra time from professors when we miss classes for tournaments, we don’t face attendance-related problems,” said Siji Aiyan, a third-year BCom student who was part of the Delhi team.