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India’s Offside Girls | Close Up

A sports academy in a remote village in India’s Bihar state where girls are striving for sporting glory.

Laxmipur, a remote village in India’s eastern state of Bihar, is the home of one of India’s few girls’ football teams.

India’s Offside Girls, follows the team as they train at the Laxmibai Sports Club and prepare for a match with the local boys’ football team.

It is a social exploration into the lives of young women who are passionate about a sport they have been told was only for men.

They are supported in this by Coach Sanjay Pathak, a schoolteacher in his early 40s who taught himself how to coach football by watching YouTube lessons. Pathak then started after-school sport sessions to train the girls in the school where he taught.

Lacking support from the school, he moved the training facility to his family’s agricultural land and used part of his salary to fund the club that he named after the famous freedom fighter and Maratha queen, Laxmibai. 

Pathak is determined to continue, even in the face of the patriarchal mindset of village elders, who are offended by girls venturing out to train wearing sports gear.

“What are girls born for? They’re born to be someone’s daughter-in-law one day,” says one of the villagers.

In the past decade, the Laxmibai Sports Club has produced a number of national-level football players including Putul, Tara, Antima, Amrita and Nisha.

A film by Gautam Singh

Cinematographer: Ranjit Kumar Singh

Sound Recordist: Manoj Kumar

Film Editor: Jameel Hodzic

Audio Design: Linus Bergman

Colourist: Kishore Kanchan

Music: Athar Saeed

Logistics: Tanveer Khalid, Najrul, Aamir

Producer: Ala Alhussan

EP: Andrew Phillips