Since Odisha hosted the Hockey World Cup in 2018, perceptions about the sport and its players have taken a positive turn in this Indian state. Many lives have changed as a result, including those of rural women like Elisaba Lakra, 27, whose parents did not consider hockey as a worthwhile career when she was growing up. Today there is great respect for people who choose to play hockey professionally. Not only are they promised a government job, they are given the opportunity to represent their country. Some women from rural villages in India have even been encouraged to compete internationally. Lakra and other married women in rural India are also taking up the hockey stick daily. “I cannot play professionally any more, but I am glad that I still get to play. Since these two World Cups (2018 and 2023), the attitude towards the game has changed and we are seen as the shining stars of the village,” says Lakra.

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