This is the story of Jyoti Ann Burrett, the striker for the Indian Women’s National Football team. She went against the grain to take up the sport she loved, she stood up against stereotypes and then she fought for a place on the Indian team. Here, she relates the very real struggles she faced and how her sport gave her the strength and learning to keep going over every roadblock she came across...
“Sit down. Sit down. That is all I was expected to do. And sit down I did, listening to the voices that told me to do something ‘useful’ instead of playing sports. There is always time for everything else, they said. But when it came to sports, they thought it was not worth investing time and effort in. Soon they were OK with me playing sports, but football just didn’t cut it in their eyes. Tennis and Golf seemed more stable from their all-consuming vantage point. Yet there were voices that told me to keep going, voices that were important to me, my family that saw my dreams and embraced them as their own and my voice grew stronger with the important few that stood by my side.
Years have passed since then. And what began as a tough choice turned into a way of life. I went on to play for Delhi, now I play for India. It wasn’t easy though. It took me eight years of falling down, to find myself standing strong. Sports always gave me a chance to push forward and turn every defeat into another finish line. I will keep training, I will get better, I will fail and I will fall but I will stand up again.
I have a day job as a trainer and I am the first one there and the last one gone. I wake up in the morning and I can look at the clock and give myself five more minutes in bed, but then I tell myself to get up, push myself and get going. Because every limb in my body is constantly reminded of that feeling of euphoria every time I crash into the water and slide in the mud. I am reminded of how insulted I felt when people told me that the weights I pick up are the very weights that will pull me down. And so I wake up with a new vigour, to fight my battles and to win... every single day.
There will always be voices that tell me to sit down, but it is this sport that reminds me that every single day is a new day. The slate is wiped clean but all that remains is who you want to be. I knew who I wanted to be when I woke up this morning, now it is up to me to stand up, push for my dreams to come true and just do it!”
Sports gave Jyoti the strength and confidence she needed to pursue her true passion and get ahead in life. So you see, sports aren't about just staying fit. They are as much about discovering things within you that you never knew existed. Jyoti did it, so can you.