Former Indian woman footballer forced to herd goats for a living

The Hush Post | 6:31 pm | One-minute read |

Tanuja Baghe, a former goalkeeper in the Indian women football team is today forced to herd goats to feed her family. The goalie who was a part of the Indian team 8 years ago is today struggling for survival.

Baghe hails from Jharsuguda district of Odisha and was born to a poor tribal family in Debadihi village. Tanuja had a knack for football ever since she was a child.

At the age of 14, Tanuja underwent training under Vedanta’s corporate social responsibility programme in 2003. Her talent acquired her a place in the Odisha team and soon she secured a place for herself in the Indian women football team.

Baghe won several trophies, medals and certificates in her short career. She also played rugby and sepak-takraw.

“I played in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bengal. In a final match against Manipur and we lost. In one of the exhibition match that I played as Indian goalkeeper, we won against Nepal,” Hindustan Times quoted her as saying. However, she says that it is a thing of a past now and doesn’t try to remember it.


In 2011, Baghe had to quit football as she needed a job to support her family, but she never got one. A few years back she was appointed as a police homeguard by Jharsuguda police, but the low wages again forced her out.

Tanuja also got a job of training students in football in a private school, but again quit the job as she was paid only Rs. 3000 instead of promised Rs. 8000 per month.


Now with no job at her disposal, Baghe is washing utensils at houses of local people and herds their goats.

“My husband is also a daily labourer and unless both of we work, it is difficult to feed our two kids. I don’t enjoy running after the goats, but there is little I can do,” she said.

Baghe is homeless and lives in a hut on a government land. The only saving grace is the ration card that gets them rice at subsidised rate of Rs 1 a kg.

As reports highlighted Baghe’s plight, the district authorities have swung into action and are scouting for a job for her.

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