Young girls learning the basics of football at IGMC stadium in Vijayawada.
They may not ‘bend it like Beckham’ but these girls play football with as much intensity as displayed by the iconic English player. These girls, all below 16 years from all over Andhra Pradesh, have taken up the sport with determination to make a career out of it.
“These girls refuse to believe that football is a men’s bastion. They, like hundreds of their counterparts all over the world, are besotted by the game which is one of the world’s popular games,” said Hari, their coach.
These girls are in Vijayawada for a training stint for the national competitions to be held at Ranchi next week. They appear weak and feeble, but they are keen on giving a spirited performance in the national event.
“No doubt their rivals especially from North and West parts of the country would be stronger and sturdier. Tackling will be difficult. But they have to learn the hard away,” says coach Johnson.
Much to the delight of their coaches, these girls are fine-tuning their stamina and endurance by meticulously performing the drills.
“These girls were made to run continuously for 20 minutes. They completed seven rounds, each round covering a distance of 400 meters, at IGMC stadium”.
Hari said that the girls would be on the move for 90 minutes during the match and it was imperative they possessed strong legs.
These girls are the product of Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh and the role of the physical education teachers is laudable.
“The role of PETs is praise-worthy for they not only instilled confidence in the players but also in their parents about the significance of the game,” says District Sports Development Officer P. Ramakrishna. Bhagyamma, Chandrika, Sridevi, Divya and others are all from the lower strata of the society with abundant hope of making a career out of the game. “With the certificates we can get seats in professional courses like medicine and engineering,” they said in unison.
Some of the girls, despite failing to utter the names of popular English clubs in the European Premier League, did utter names like Messi, Rolando and Rooney which brought to fore the interest they evinced in the game.
“Football is back on track in AP as the decade-long disputes were resolved. The bifurcation of the State has also come as a shot in the arm for more players can represent the new State in the national events,” said SAAP coach Panduranga Rao, who is now based at Nellore.
They refuse to believe that the game is a men’s bastion, says their coach Hari