A year after she was part of the bronze medal-winning rugby team from Kerala at the 35th National Games, Harishree is struggling to continue her education because rugby is not recognised as a valid sport under the state’s sports quota.
Harishree, who hails from Palode in Thiruvananthapuram, was the youngest player and the only Class 9 student in the senior rugby girls’ team that represented Kerala in the 2015 National Games.
After securing 54% in the SSLC examination this year, Harishree was counting on the extra marks under the sports quota to help her get admitted to class 11. She was hoping to study Humanities at SKV Higher Secondary School in Thiruvananthapuram, where she has studied since class 8.
However, she and her family were in for a shock when the school refused to give her a seat under the sports quota.
“The school authorities first told us that I had missed the last date to apply for the course. But after a meeting of the management, they told us that all 60 available seats had already been filled and that they can admit me only if the CM directs them to,” Harisree told The News Minute.
She then applied to a second school – Bharatannur Government Higher Secondary School – and only then learnt the actual reason for her rejection by the earlier school: because the Kerala State Sports Council does not recognize rugby at the school level.
“I was not aware of this and was expecting the grace marks from my participation at the National games to get me through,” she said.
On Thursday, after media reports garnered attention, the school authorities held a meeting to discuss the possibility of admitting her to the school. However, the meeting ended with nothing more than a direction to Harishree’s family to seek help from the Chief Minister.
Mahesh Kumar D, President of Kerala State Rugby Association said that the association has made many efforts to make the Sports Council recognise the sport.
Though the association was formed in 2002, it is only after the 35th National games in 2015 that rugby has caught attention, he said.
Mahesh said Harishree’s situation was unfortunate. “She was one of our strong players, it is unfortunate that she has been denied admission because of rugby not being a recognized sport at the school level,” he said.
The matter is different at university level, he observed, adding that his own son secured admission for a bachelor’s degree under the sports quota on the strength of his rugby performance.
He added that with over 1500 rugby players at various levels across Kerala, the delay in giving affiliation to the sport creates many hardships for players and coaches, who end up spending from their own pockets to pursue the sport.
Shyju, who currently coaches the senior girls’ team said that the Sports Council had promised to look into the question of recognising rugby back when Padmini Thomas was the President. However, there has been no progress on the question thus far.