The boys of Mastichak are a disgruntled lot. Three days a week, 13-year-old Suman Kumari usurps control of a tiny patch of land they call their football ground. Her friends too descend in large numbers—often 21, sometimes 44. They divide themselves into teams of yellow and blue. On shining jerseys and fancy shorts, the girls wear their colours proudly.
Last Thursday, Suman battled hard for her yellow compatriots. As the scoreline stood at 2-2, she dribbled bravely and showed off a mean tackle. But to her surprise, Chandni came up from behind, bent it like Bhaichung and won the match for the Blues. Still panting from the sudden defeat, Suman said, “We’ll play again on Saturday. I’ll show them.” When asked if she has what it takes to make the district team, she says ‘Of course’ with an assurance that makes her sound decidedly urban.