Nothing much happened in the village of Merpur on the outskirts of Udaipur, Rajasthan. It was a quiet hamlet where school boys would play during lunch breaks while the girls wandered about. Worse still, the girls were extremely diffident, hesitant to speak and low on confidence. Rather than talking about studies and sports, girls as young as 14 would discuss marriage and some of their friends who were getting pregnant. That was until Padmini V, recipient of a 13-month SBI Youth for India Fellowship, showed up in town.
With the help of Laduram, the village sarpanch and Rohit Pandya, a physical trainer from Udaipur, Padmini has begun to use football to break gender stereotypes, give the girls an outlet to express themselves constructively, get fit and, most importantly, develop a sense of self-belief, confidence and direction.