Even though we are living in the 21st century, society has always tried to put hurdles on the path of women who have tried to do something different. Discrimination against women is a long-running phenomenon in Indian society but today things are slowly changing as women are breaking social and cultural norms and succeeding in their chosen career path. Meet one such woman Thamimunissa Jabbar, fondly known as ‘Thamim’, the 35-year-old women football coach who has come as a saviour for girls who come from orthodox Muslim families.
Thamim came across the sport of football while she was a student in Chengelpet college in Tamil Nadu in the 1990. Even though she had to face the ire of her family, her hard work and dedication towards the game made them ponder over their decision to not allow her to play.
In a span of less than two years, she made a big impact by helping her team win a state-level match in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. She kept on winning matches for the team and in one such state-level tournament in Ooty, she performed so well that newspapers decided to give her the name of ‘Lady Baichung Bhutia’.
“If it wasn’t for my coach, who assured my family that I had a promising future in this game, my years after class X would have been spent sitting at home waiting to get married the moment I turned 18,” she said in an interview with The Times of India.
“My father had tears in his eyes when he read these reports and he said he was glad I had stood my ground. This inspired me to become a coach and mentor these girls,” she added.
Thamim, who coaches the Muslim Women’s Association (MWA) School, takes care of the girls who want to take up the sport seriously. She personally ensures that the girls wrap up practice in time for class, reach home before sundown, excel in exams and can play with the hijab on.
For 17-year-olds MWA students Samitha Nihar and Shirien Jamekha, football is more about enjoying and expressing themselves on the field. Both the girls spend their entire pocket money in commuting to school for practice every morning. “To us, Thamim ma’am isn’t just a mentor, but a friend who understands the trials we face every day,” says Samitha.
Thamim has now set her eyes on getting the girls into the nationals and for that, she is ensuring that the core strengthening, endurance and skill building is done properly. She is also making sure that girls can play in the uniform they are comfortable in.