[VoxSpace Life] Shweta Shahi : The 19-Year-Old Self-Taught Rugby Player

YouTube To The Rescue

Social Media has been a revolution of sorts. Thanks to this medium, hundreds and thousands of people, or should we say “influencers”, are shining brightly simply on the basis of their talents. Numerous women are becoming independent, despite (sometimes) being from a humble background. Yes, its true, social media also has its own flaws – but those flaws tend to minimize in front of its boons. Interestingly, it is not just the influencers who gain from social media. The followers or the viewers also at times achieve the zenith of success by educating themselves through the various social media sites. A glaring example of the same is India’s own child, Shweta Shahi – the woman who outshone others in a “foreign sport”, rugby by watching tutorials on YouTube.

Shweta Shahi – The Player Who Didn’t Know The Meaning Of Rugby Despite Excelling It

As a person growing up in a little village in Nalanda, Bihar, Shweta was just another girl who loved to have fun while growing up. Thanks to the internet revolution in the country the little girl managed to operate YouTube on her father’s phone and would spend hours watching Rugby. Well, she did not even know that the game was called rugby – all she knew was it was a thrilling sport which she wanted to play.

Me, The Change - Shweta Shahi, Bihar's Self-Taught Rugby Player | The Quint

Slowly, she immersed herself in the rugby tutorial videos, so much so that one would always find her hooked onto the sport, sometimes even trying to copy certain antics of the sportsperson. Noting her courage, her father went against the entire village and kindred and vowed to let her pursue her passion.

Now, when everything seemed to be going on the right track, there was one big issue – who would teach her the sport? After all, rugby is not a common game in India and even to think of getting a coach would literally bankrupt the entire family.

Related image shweta shahi u-18 team
India U-18 Rugby Team

So, her father decided to take everything in his own stead and began helping his daughter in materializing her dreams. Thereafter, every evening they would watch the YouTube and Facebook videos together, picking up various antics and tricks, noting them down and trying to perform them in the field while playing with each other.

Talking about her days of practising at the local grounds, she said to The Quint, “I had been practising on a field. But the owners have built boundaries around it. I have to cycle 6 kilometres every morning to train at a school’s playground. While a rugby ground needs grass, this one has stones and bumps. I could get injured but I have no option.”

Going Against The Society, She Brought Laurels To Her Family

In a country where even women from modern societies are often questioned for choosing “out-of-the-box” career options, the path was only difficult for Shweta. Born to a family of farmers, Shweta was to be married at an early age, according to her relatives.

On coming to know that she was learning rugby with her father, her maternal uncle expressed his stern views against it – “Who would marry you?” he would often say. Such odds were everywhere, but her father Sujit Kumar’s Shahi’s undying support made everything possible.

Giving her father the due credit, Shweta recalled her mama’s views and said, “Rugby is an injury-prone sport. What if I got hurt? He was worried that nobody would marry me. If it weren’t for my father’s unconditional support, I would not have reached where I have.”

Image result for bharatiya samvidhan shweta shahi

Shweta was first spotted by Bihar’s Rugby Secretary at a state athletic event. Although there had been numerous bumps in her way, things completely changed for her from that day. From being a girl who did not know the name of the game to become the only player to be selected from Bihar for the national team in 2013, Shweta’s story is definitely a fairy tale of sorts.

Today, the 19-year-old has already represented India in the prestigious Asia Rugby Seven Series that was held across Sri Lanka, South Korea and Dubai.

The First-Time Voter Has Some Demands From The Government

Shweta Shahi is now a 19-year-old girl, who is thrilled to be voting for the first time in 2019. However, the young woman is not ready to just vote with an empty mind. She wants the new government to not only build more roads but to encourage the youth to come and participate in various sports. She does not want eligible sportsperson to settle for a poverty-stricken life just for the lack of basic sporting facility.

“Politicians are making roads but none of them focuses on players. My major problem is that I do not have a ground. I have no training equipment or any facility. When I vote in 2019, I will vote with these issues in mind. We’re India’s future. If we do well, we will bring pride to our districts and states. If they promise to work for us, I will vote for them,” said the fiery woman.

Image result for shweta shahi rugby player

However, if you think Shweta Shahi is all about words and no deeds, you will be mistaken. She is doing her bit to encourage people to take up sports in the villagers near her. With a desire to spread the sport in Nalanda, she travels to local schools and encourages students – especially girls – to take up the sport. Whenever she gets some time off from her training camps, she makes it a point to train the interested girls. You will, in fact, be surprised to know that already six girls from her district have represented the nation under her tutelage.

That’s Shweta Shahi for you – from a simple village girl desiring to learn a new sport to coaching young girls towards a better livelihood, Shweta Shahi is an embodiment of hard work and inspiration.