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ASA leagues: Opportunity, equality and empowerment

Author: Ernest Abhishek Paul

ASA leagues: Opportunity, equality and empowerment

The Anantapur Sports Academy has developed grassroots sports leagues as a way for children and youth to access sport in rural India.

For any culture to grow sustainably, it must be built from the ground up, from the grassroots level. Grassroots sport has a minor presence in India – the lack of sustainable access to sporting infrastructure, coaching and parental pressure on children to dedicate more time to academics, discouragement from schools and an overall lack of understanding in communities on the benefits of sport creates ‘the great void’ in grassroots sport in India.  

Grassroots sport helps children exercise their right to play, and also develops their soft skills. A recent study titled “Impact of sport in Rural India 2.0” shows that children who participate in sport are more confident – 90% of children like working with others in teams, 88% of children dismissed the predominant gender stereotypes and 97% believe that they can do well in education while they play sport. 

Grassroots sports leagues

Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA), a sport for development initiative in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in India, is creating sustainable access to sports through their programs. ASA has created access to sport for children in rural areas of Anantapur district through 96 grassroots centers, 3 development centers and a Center of Excellence with state-of-the-art facilities. ASA organizes annual leagues like the Ananta Premier League (APL), Anantapur Football League (AFL) and Anantapur Hockey League (AHL). 

These rural leagues create access to sport and provide a platform for rural children and youth to showcase their skills and talents. In 2019-20 alone 3,492 (1,133 female) children participated in AFL, APL and/or AHL. These leagues create space for children from various backgrounds to interact with one another and learn. ASA leagues build bridges between the communities enabling dialogue between children, youth and community leaders on sport and equality. 

Empowering girls and women

The regressive traditions in rural India do not allow girls to play sport – through the leagues, ASA encourages girls’ participation. The APL, AFL and AHL all have women’s leagues and also host mixed-gender matches. Practice sessions at ASA centers are held with both boys and girls together, which helps children learn about the importance of gender equality. The home and away format helps girls to travel across the district and meet children from other places, interact and exchange ideas and build camaraderie.  

Empowering youth

To conduct such grassroots leagues, local youth and senior players are trained to serve as coaches and referees. This empowers youth and creates employment opportunities for them. In 2019-20, 111 youth and coaches were trained through various workshops. 

ASA also builds the capacities of local communities to organize the leagues. Youth and community leaders in rural areas are equipped with organization skills, which they can use for the development of their communities. 

ASA leagues are developing the grassroots sport in rural India by creating access for children and filling ‘the great void’. Through AFL, APL and AHL, ASA is empowering youth by building their capacities, equipping them with coaching and refereeing skills thereby increasing their employability and creating employment opportunities. 


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Monday, March 1, 2021 - 10:18

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