Football in India is on its way up with the advent of the Indian Super League (ISL) and the news that the 2017 FIFA U 17 World Cup will be held here. Sadly, women‚Äôs football lacks popularity despite the fact that India ranks a credible 50th among 175 countries. With scarce facilities and focus, India‚Äôs women have still managed to maintain a decent standing in the sport. Like many other sports in India, women‚Äôs football too, is crying out for more support. Here‚Äôs a look at some of them who have been an inspiration in women‚Äôs football in India:
Oinam Bembem Devi
The Manipuri made her international debut for India in 1995 at the tender age of 15. A highly experienced campaigner, she is entering the twilight of her career and intends to become coach after retirement. Bembem captained the national team to two SAFF Championship wins and clinched the national championship 16 times with her state.
When she started playing, she did not have the support of her father as he, as is the norm in India, wanted her to concentrate on her studies. However, he started accepting it gradually after seeing her passion and success in the sport. She ended up winning the AIFF Player of the Year Award twice.
Ngangom Bala Devi
Another Manipuri, she too faced difficulties initially, with very few facilities and a complete lack of public support. Her family, though, stood by her side throughout for her to realize the dream of playing for the national team.
That support produced a prolific forward known to score goals by the bucketful. She played a big role in India‚Äôs 2010 and 2014 SAFF Championship winning sides. She was also handed the 2014 AIFF Player of the Year Award thanks to her exploits that year.
This 23 year old Delhi girl is the first Indian national to play for an English Premier League side when she was signed up by West Ham Ladies in 2015. She was spotted by the club when she turned up for her university team in the UK, where she is pursuing higher studies. Aditi has always been into sports since an early age by indulging in basketball and karate. In fact, her handing of the ball in basketball prompted her coaches to try her out as a goalkeeper!
Her big moment came in the 2012 SAFF Championships where she impressed everyone with her skills between the sticks. The fact that Aditi also excelled in her studies throughout deserves a special mention.
Tanvie is, quite simply, the best footballer who will never play for India! Born in the UK and educated in Delhi, she played football right from school to university level in Delhi. The attacking midfielder was called up to the India squad and just a few weeks before the announcing of the final squad, it became clear that she can‚Äôt represent India due to her British passport.
Disappointed, she left India to pursue higher studies in the UK. After getting snubbed by her University team, she picked herself up and trained harder with her erstwhile coach in Delhi and got selected in the Tottenham Hotspurs Ladies team. She still harbours dreams of playing for India and hopes there will be some change in rules which will allow her to represent India.