Bardhaman: 15-year old Sonali Soren made history as she became the first woman footballer from her tribe to make it to be under consideration for the Indian Nation U-17 Women’s team.
Hailing from a modest tribal family of the Kalna region in the Bardhaman district, Sonali had very little resources to continue her passion. She started playing football as a nine-year-old, but due to her tribe not being so familiar with the concept of gender equity of sports, couldn’t offer her many teammates. As a result, the Santal kid played with the boys of the tribe, setting an example at such a tender age.
Sonali’s career came into prominence when she became the best player of the Bengal State Level National for three consecutive years (2018, 2019, 2020). Sonali also plied her trade in the Kolkata League by East Bengal in 2020 along with School Nationals and Open Nationals. Adding another feather to her achievements, Soren received an award for being an ‘ Outstanding talent in Sports’ in the Telegraph School Awards for Excellence.
Soren resonated with her success and being discovered with the credit of Shreeja Foundation which is a Non-profit Organization that looks after her, her sister Siuli and 30 other girls in an endeavor to bring their talent to light.
Shreeja India is a not-for-profit CSO offering sports-based education in rural Birbhum and Purba Bardhaman districts of West Bengal. The organization views sports, mainly Football integrated with ‘informed imagination’ as a powerful vehicle for empowering women and catalyzing social change.
Over the last five years, Shreeja India has grown to be a torchbearer of social innovation and organic development in rural education and women’s empowerment in India. The organization is actively working to stop school dropouts, early marriages, trafficking, and violence against women. Sonali is currently at Shreeja manifesting her dream of representing the nation while finishing her academic career as well.