Gurpreet Singh Sandhu launches initiative to empower women’s football in India

Bengaluru FC custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has started an initiative to help improve the development and empowerment of women’s football in India. The two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) Golden Glove winner will be auctioning his sketches on Instagram, with the proceeds going towards the development of women’s football in India.

“For our generation and the generation after us, it’s all about unlearning the vices that society has taught us while we were growing up and broadening our world-view that can help us become better versions of ourselves,” the Indian custodian explained in an interview with thebridge.in.

The initiative is the brainchild of Gurpreet’s fiancée Devenish Singh, who came up with the idea during their time in Australia. “I was with my fiancée in Sydney and we were just going through some of my sketches when she suggested that we should do something with them. I had always wanted to take up an initiative that could be an ally for women’s empowerment in the country and this seemed like the perfect vehicle for that,” he said.

“Both of us want to make a difference and in this case, if my voice and position as a professional athlete can help in making women feel empowered, then that would be entirely my honour. We have to make it a more equal world for our next generations, otherwise we would be failing them. And if this initiative could inspire other men from the sports industry to come out and do their bit in ensuring equality, I’ll be a happy man,” the goalkeeper shared.

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The 2020 AIFF Men’s footballer of the Year went on to speak highly of Rangers FC star Bala Devi, who is the first Indian woman footballer to play professionally outside the country. “Bala Devi is such a rockstar, you know. I think what she has achieved should be a matter of great pride for the entire country and should show young players how to have a proper roadmap for your career and work towards getting there,” he said.

Speaking about the hardships faced by many young emerging players in women’s football, Gurpreet said, “Many girls still do not get the freedom to pursue football out of their own volition. Added to that, a lack of infrastructure and national level prominence has made their path even more difficult. It is high time we, as men, acknowledge the difficulties that they face and ensure that we do everything possible to give them a platform to show their talent because some of the young girls that are coming through are just brilliant. We have to work together towards equality in sports.”

Sketching has always been one of Gurpreet’s hobbies from a young age and the 28-year-old shot-stopper feels content to use his talents for a noble purpose.  “I started doing this when I was a kid and it later became a pastime during my travels, but now there is an added source of contentment since I know that this is being used for something good. We’ll see where it takes us,” he shared.

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