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The ‘Unstoppable’: Rugby girl Sandhya Rai rises from tea gardens of Bengal to become the face of world Rugby campaign

She is the daughter of a tea plucker. Perhaps she would have followed the same profession. But Sandhya Rai pursued a vocation that is completely out of their world. Sandhya found Rugby as her future. Now, at 20, she has been chosen the ‘Unstoppable’ Indian face of a global campaign by Rugby’s world governing body.

Sandhya Rai was born in a family of tea pluckers in a small hamlet of Siliguri district in West Bengal. Life was too normal for her until that day when an amateur Rugby team from Kolkata visited her village to demonstrate the sport.

Sandhya and a group of other girls discovered Rugby as a new way of their life. They found the sport not only exciting but highly motivating. It was a mean which was their way of expression and conviction and a mode to convey the world that they have arrived. 

Sandhya Rai played for Indian women’s Rugby team along with nine other girls from her village. She even led India in Asia Rugby U18 Girls Sevens tournament in which they acquired the fourth position.

Sandhya wanted to spread Rugby among more girls like her and therefore launched a campaign Pass for Passion to raise funds for Khelo Rugby project. The programme creates opportunity for young players to play Rugby.

Sandhya’s honest approach towards Rugby and her works in the grassroot level to promote the sport drew attention of the world governing body. On December 23, 2020, Sandhya Rai was appointed ‘Unstoppable’ Indian face of global campaign. She, along with Sumitra Nayak and Vahbiz Bharuchav, has been chosen to represent India in the Asia Rugby Unstoppable Campaign.

This programme of the global body includes 32 Asian women players who will campaign across Asia to inspire girls and women to play this sport. It will also highlight inspiring stories of women who have made a name for themselves in Rugby. Sandhya Rai will take this work forward starting from her native place to India and then Asia as a whole.

Sandhya overwhelmingly explained, “No one has ever done anything big from my small tea growing village. My success in Rugby will make it easier for young girls & boys from Saraswatipur to get into Rugby and change their thinking towards the sport”.

 

About Poulomi Kundu

PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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