As part of his exploratory phase for BSDC’s rugby-themed piece The Strategists, Balbir Singh was keen to find out how the female game differs from its male equivalent – and also how it is developing in other parts of the world. While on tour in India with his guru Pratap Parwar, Balbir was fortunate to be able to meet up with Kuldip Singh Bist, coach of the Delhi Hurricanes, a leading Indian female rugby team. Here we reprint the text of the interview in full.
We were always very close to each other but due to my long working hours it was difficult for us to spend time together so first thing Rugby did to us that it brought us together for at least 8-10 hours per week. Though I am a coach first on the field and every player is same for me but initially it was very difficult for my daughters to accept it. Being a father of two rugby players (I have two daughters both playing rugby) it was tough for me too as I have to make sure that I am not more or less critical towards them. They have great understanding now and now they have become my close friends too. I can see them growing very confidently now.
I knew from the beginning that it’s not going to be easy in India to get female rugby players as most of the families are conservative and specially middle and lower class but even rich girls don’t play as it’s a contact sport and parents fear of serious injuries to their daughters and other say it is very famous in India that girls are made for kitchen not to get into education and sports which is slowly changing with time.
Initially the game used to be suspended if any girl get injury during but girls were very keen to change that and with their grit today they are as fearless as male rugby players. I have seen many changes in these girls very closely. They have become much more confidant now. I did few things deliberately like ask them to give speech in a large gathering, make them laugh, dance, give them freedom to express them and I have not seen girls as expressive as our girls, they forget about everything else when they are on the field and people who come to see our training or matches come to us and congratulate us to bring this culture in these girls.
As far as rugby is concerned, the game could move further very well. When we started female rugby in Delhi we had hardly seven or eight players and they all were from a Physical Education College but now we have a pool of 200 female rugby players of different age groups and standard of their play is improving day by day as most of them now starting to take this game at early age.
The only thing is that we need to give them is an atmosphere where they can feel safe as women. This and child safety are the two big issues India is facing right now and exploitation of female players by coaches and managements in every game is a concern, so if we can provide them a platform where they can do whatever they want with a self discipline then nobody can stop them. Hurricanes is number 1 club in India right now in both men’s and women’s categories.
Team culture – enjoying success together, feeling pain of losing the game together) – senior players setting examples for juniors, harmony among players, working together towards a goal, working on individual skills and working towards betterment, giving players freedom, encouraging them to have virtues including creativity, awareness, resilient, decisions making, self organisation and collectivel. They will wonder for their teams.
Anybody can make a plan but executing it under pressure is a different ball game. The team work very hard on their moves and they are tested in trying conditions even in training. Even then there is no guarantee to execute them in a game but ‘keep trying’ is a mantra and sooner or later a situation comes where everything fall in a place and you execute your plan perfectly.
One must play a team sport as it helps an individual to have a feel of different behaviour, set of mind, culture, language, size, weight, speed, agility, skills and adapting all of them is make them wise and it helps them ultimately in their lives and these players bring that diversity with them and take a team culture where they consider themselves one, work in harmony and synchronisation even being an individual with different virtues.
Once these girls are in their comfort zone, feel safe and know that they will not be judged they are fantastic to work with. They could be as competitive as boys but they are more friendly towards their opposition and make friends very easily and quickly, take care of each other very well and are very obedient. Hence working with them gets very easy.