As Mangali lay in her bed on the third floor of Batiaghata Upazila Health Complex in Khulna, her mother Suchitra Bagchi fed her. Her younger sister sat next to them playing games on her mobile and answering calls from worried relatives.
According to Mangali, some locals of Tentultala village opposed girls playing football at Super Queen Football Academy there. That complaint spurred the girls on to play with more vigour than before.
Two of them were Khulna division U-17 players — Mangali, a resident of another village but comes to Tentultala for practice, and Sadia Nasreen of Tentultala.
Speaking to The My News, Sadia said, “My family does not approve of my playing and so I practise in secret. When I was practising recently, a team member, Nupur, took photos and sent them to my family, along with obscene comments about me.
“When I asked her [why she did that], she beat me. I then informed other divisional players – Mangali, Jui Mondal, Hajera Khatun and more. But when Nupur’s family learned about the incident, they teamed up with the other locals who opposed us playing football, and came to beat us up.”
Mangali told The My News, “My teammates were able to run and find shelter, but I was beaten severely.
“I screamed for help … My hands were tied. They asked how dare I play football and told me to leave the village. They said I should not wear shorts [a part of a footballer’s uniform].”
Mangali added, “After around two hours, the academy members rescued me and brought me to the upazila health complex.
“No matter what, I won’t give up football. Even though I was threatened, I will keep playing.”
Mangali’s mother Suchitra said, “After I heard about the incident, I went to the spot – about four km away from home. I am in a fix! I told my daughter to give up football but she just won’t. She vowed to keep playing.”
Debashish Kumar Mandal, teacher of Tentultala Government Primary School and coach of Super Queen Football Academy, said, “Many of these players, including Sadia, trained with me since primary school. There are many locals who don’t want the girls to play football because of social taboos. It’s important that this mindset and perspective are changed.”
Mizanur Rahman, the upazila health and family planning officer, said Mangali suffered a head wound in the attack but is not in danger.
Doctors at the complex said she needs to be in hospital for a few more days
Meanwhile, Shawkat Kabir, officer-in-charge of Khulna Batiaghata Police Station, said a general diary had been filed in this regard.