India's 1st all transgender football team from Manipur

Manipur gives India its first all transgender football team

Identity on the field

All transgender football team in Imphal on March 8. Photo credit: Ya All NGO, Imphal.

Chaki Huidrom can drib the ball or score goals as good as any other football player in Manipur, but the 24-year-old student was never allowed to take part in a match as he is a transgender.

"Tournaments are held either for men or women. But transgender players can't play with men or women. Even if they take part without disclosing the gender, controversy often takes place in case of a complaint. It is always in our minds on why can't we have a tournament for the third gender," said Chaki, hailing from Imphal West district.

Chaki's dream to play a football match without a question being asked about his gender was fulfilled on March 8 this year when Ya All, an NGO, helped them form a 14-member all-transgender football team and play a seven-a-side match in Imphal.

"They were so happy after the match that it gave us encouragement to have similar matches in the future too," founder of the NGO, Sadam Hanjabam told DH from Imphal.

With this, Manipur, considered to be a sports hub got its first all-transgender football team.

"This is perhaps the first all-transgender football team in the country. We have not yet come across any such team in other parts," he said.

"They were born as girls but they consider themselves boys. But our society finds it difficult to accept this identity. They face so much of stigma and discrimination that they can't display their sporting talents. Our purpose is to help them enjoy their identity and provide a platform to prove them that they can do things together. This will help change our society's mindsets towards the third gender," said Hanjabam, also a Phd. fellow in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

The team is led by Nick (striker) and comprise Chaki (vice captain, striker), Puja (goalkeeper), Silleibi (goalkeeper), Nellie (mid-fielders), Max, Thoi L, Sanathoi, Lem ( striker), KK, Lala (defender), Christina, Thoi S and Miller.

Formed in 2017, Ya All has been working for the LGBTQ community in Manipur.

It wants to build a strong transgender football team but the resource is a constraint.

"We request the big football teams to come forward and help us in providing coaching and other facilities. If we all can join hands to have sports meets for the third gender also, many such sporting talents will come out in the open. They don't come out due to the stigma and discrimination they face in the society," he said.

Chaki further said that they wished to be a part of state, national and international level football tournaments in the transgender category.

"Other players should also come out so that we can compete, improvise ourselves and create a strong Transgender Team in India"

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