While many women were lucky enough to grow up in spaces that encourage physical activity and sports, others had to stand their ground and fight for their desire to be sportswomen. But beyond schools and colleges, there are very few spaces or organisations for women to practise sports recreationally.
I'm sure there are also many others like this writer who were born with two left feet and into a family that was generally not ‘the sporty type.’ The overarching societal pressure to ‘look fair and be afraid of a tan’ is also a major factor that may have held many young girls back from practising sports. But as we grow older, many of us realise the need for safe spaces where one can try out new things and test the limits of the boxes we’ve put ourselves in. Or some who’ve always loved sports growing up would want to find an avenue to enjoy their favourite sports again.
Sisters in Sweat is a venture that began in Bangalore in 2017, which fosters a community exclusively for women, by women with sports and wellness at the centre of it. According to their website, “The aim of our organisation is to plug the gaping hole of women dropping out of sport, especially after school/college due to a myriad of reasons. The landscape of organised recreational sport in India is virtually non-existent and our presence in this space is to ensure that women have a platform to participate in and enjoy playing a sport with a community of like-minded individuals.”
The organisation began as a one-off session for a few friends, which ended up as a 17-women-strong event. Those who were in attendance requested the founders to make it a recurring event and Sisters in Sweat began. With multiple sports events conducted each week including football, basketball, touch rugby and more, they create safe spaces for women from all walks of life, to unite over their shared love for sports. Today, they have gone beyond the realm of sports to include sessions like yoga, barre, dance and more. With a mission to ‘level the playing field’, the organisation works to ensure accessibility and inclusivity within every step of the way.
The initiative for Sisters in Sweat began with co-founders Swetha Subbiah and Tanvie Hans. Shweta is not just a passionate advocate for sports but is also a fitness expert. Her extensive experience in fitness and her dedication to lasting lifestyle changes contribute significantly to the Sisters in Sweat initiative. Tanvie Hans is a powerhouse of footballing talent. Having played in English clubs like Tottenham Ladies and Fulham Ladies FC, she's using her expertise to drive change back home in India. She's not just a leader on the field, but also a role model for young aspiring athletes.
With a community of 5,000 happy, active, and sweaty women, Sisters in Sweat is positively impacting the personal and professional lives of each of its members. These women are not only challenging societal norms but also setting better examples for the next generation. Imagine kids waking up on a Sunday morning, not to see their moms in the kitchen but to watch them lacing up their boots for a football game.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when life threw a curveball, Sisters in Sweat pivoted to offer virtual fitness and wellness sessions. The community's WhatsApp groups essentially became a lifeline for support. Women volunteered their time and resources to help those in need, day in and day out. It became about much more than sports; it became a sisterhood of support.
Sisters in Sweat is currently active in Bangalore and Mumbai and is hoping to expand its reach across India and beyond. They collaborate frequently with other female-founded wellness brands and initiatives such as Proactive For Her, Bare Necessities and many more. They're not stopping at sports and wellness. They're working to create opportunities for women in sports, offering employment as coaches or in managerial roles. Their focus is not just about playing the game; it's about reshaping the game itself.
In a world that often underestimates women's abilities and potential, Sisters in Sweat is rewriting the narrative. It's more than just a fitness club; it's a sisterhood, a support system, and a movement for change. For those women who're looking to get active, make friends, and be part of something bigger, check out Sisters in Sweat. Who knows, you might just find a new sisterhood for yourself!
You can follow them here.