The country’s first all-transgender football team (Source: Twitter)
Manipur has become the first state in the country to have an all-transgender football team. The team, formed by an NGO called Ya-All (Yawol), comprises 14 transmen, mostly college students, passionate about the game.
The first-of-its-kind football outfit was formed on March 8, the date marking the beginning of the five-day Yaoshang festival, Manipur’s version of Holi. The official launch was celebrated with a seven-a-side football match. Formed three years ago, Ya-All is a non-profit youth-led network for the LGBT community to fight stigmatisation and discrimination. “I am overwhelmed with excitement to be part of a team of our own kind and also for the fact that we are the first transgender football team in the country”, said 22-year old Chaki Huidrom, vice-captain and main striker of the side.
Finding their calling
Manipur’s first all transgender football team play friendly match
The football team with 15 transmen players was set up under the aegis of Ya All, a youth led non-profit organisation based in Manipur.
— Imphal Free Press (@ImphalFreePress) March 8, 2020
Chaki is pursuing his Masters degree in physical education at Dhanamanjuri University, Imphal.
“I love sports, particularly football. But I have never felt comfortable being part of a women’s team just because I was born as a girl. Thanks to Ya-All, I’m living my dream.”
Sadam Hanjabam, founder and CEO of Ya-All, said that it took his organisation almost three years to put together the football team. It was formed with the objective to create a platform, to break the stereotypes surrounding the queer community, and spread awareness. He said that the first attempt in this direction was made in March 2018, during the Yaoshang festival. A six-a-side exhibition match was played in the presence of a substantial number of supporters, including transwomen. However, there was resistance to the idea of a team of transwomen due to social factors, said Hanjabam.
“It was not an easy task to put together the team because society is still finding it hard to accept the third gender. But the Supreme Court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality was a big help.”
He said that the team has received many invitations and even played an exhibition match outside the state. Hanjabam felt that with people’s support, the transgender football team can do even better.
“Despite the difficulty, we are facing, we will continue our work to bring together the LGBT community. We have plans to organise a state-level tourney for the queer”, said the Ya-All CEO.