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Blindness and marriage obstacles: Kerala women defy odds to become football players

Shalini A and Beena Hiranimos. Photo By: M S Amritha

Two married blind women from Kerala are scripting a new successful chapter in their lives by making their way into the Blind Women’s Kerala Football team, breaking societal norms and overcoming their physical disabilities. Beena Hiranimos, 31, and Shalini A, 30, of Kollam in Kerala, have made it to the Kerala women’s blind football team, chasing their passion to become footballers and defying restrictions from their families.

Beena Hiranimos of Sankaramangalam, a mother of two children, started playing football after her husband Shajahan, a footballer, inspired and supported her despite his family objecting to it. In fact, Beena took up football to recover from the depression of undergoing continuous treatment for her two kidney ailments.

“I loved football from my childhood days. But my circumstances never gave me an opportunity to play the game. Things became worse when I was diagnosed with kidney ailments. After undergoing treatment for a few months, I decided not to waste my time any more and chose to do what I loved. Playing football helped me overcome my depression and get back into my life. It’s pure joy being on the ground playing the game,” Beena told “Open Digest.”

It was Beena who inspired her friend Shalini to join her in playing football, realising Shalini’s love for the game. “Beena motivated me to get out of my comfort zone. I am really happy that I took that decision. Playing football now makes me happy,” said Shalini.

For the last two years, both Beena and Shalini have been practicing under the guidance of their Head Coach of the Blind Football team, Sunil J Mathew, and Women Coach Seena C V. The two have played together for the Kerala team and achieved the third position in the South West Zone Blind Football Championship held at Thiruvananthapuram in 2023. They have also participated in the National Championship at Jamshedpur in 2023. Recently, the team led by Shalini as captain and Beena as vice-captain participated in the South West Zone Blind Football Championship held at Goa in which Kerala became the runner-up in the women’s category and qualified for the National Blind Football tournament.

“People with disabilities should not feel less talented or useless. If we can make it to the state team at this age, anyone can,” Beena added.

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