Odishatv Bureau

There was a time she would sweat on the ground to break the opposition defence. And now she finds herself sweating for a different cause... to fend herself and her family.

Life has taken a full circle for 25-year-old Sujata Malllick, once a known name in Aul area in Kendrapara district for her prowess in a sport uncommon for her gender, football. These days Sujata toils hard day in and day out as a daily wage labourer to support her impoverished family of husband and a son.

Starting her career at the tender age of 11, Sujata, a native of the nondescript Demala village, joined Sports hostel in Bhubaneswar in 2005 and never looked back. For 10 long years-- from 2005 o 2015-- she played national level football championships as a sub-junior and junior player, representing Odisha. That not only earned her a name, it also brought glory to the village and district at large.

It is no secret that her first love is football. But destiny had something cruel in store for her, transforming her into a daily labourer. To feed her family members and arrange money for her son’s treatment, she now works as a farmhand or daily wage labourer at brick kilns where her husband Bismay Ranjan Mallick also works. 

Sitting on the verandah of her thatched roof house, Sujata, while talking to an OTV correspondent says she wants nothing but government assistance to treat her three-year-old son Tanmay and meet the daily expenses. “I can’t see my son wreathing in pain and my family members going hungry. This is why I am a daily wage labourer,” she says while looking up helplessly. “The government help will provide succour to me,” she adds. 

A peep into the humble dwelling would reveal the medals and certificates, some hanging on walls while others lying on a table, indicating how success she was once.  

Like other retired sports persons, Sujata is not so lucky to receive neither a job nor any assistance from the government despite being associated with the game for long. 

Sports persons in the locality have urged the government to get her a job so that she can focus more on the game, failing which a talent would go waste. 

When informed about Sujata’s plight, district Collector Amrit Ruturaj said, “I will take up her issues with authorities of the Football Federation so that she can participate in tournaments regularly. I will try my level best to provide her financial assistance from the government.”

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