Kochi: With just five weeks left to go for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, the Indian Women’s Team is busy chiselling out the rough edges that they have identified over the last few months.
A part of the chiselling process is learning to take responsibility for oneself, as well as for others, both on and off the pitch, something that is very much in the process as the team camps here in Kerala, with logistical and infrastructural aid from the Kerala Government.
The senior players have stepped up their game, especially off the pitch. Captain Ashalata Devi leads by example, showing the young women how to take charge of various aspects of their daily lives.
“It’s not easy maintaining focus ahead of such a big tournament, but I’ve found that it’s the little things that tend to help you with that. If one keeps herself busy with the nitty-gritty of the daily routines, and makes sure that they do everything that they need to do in the day, things fall in place eventually,” said Ashalata.
The 28-year-old defender believes that it’s the everyday regular things in life that will help everyone maintain focus.
“It may be something as simple as sorting out if we have got back our correct laundry, to keeping a count of the footballs before and after training,” she stated.
The Indian Women’s Team is largely celebrated as a young side, with 13 out of 27 current ampers in Kerala, being under the age of 25.
“In the larger scheme of things, it’s about taking responsibility. We all talk about this being a very young squad, and it’s great to have all the 19-20-year-olds. They bring great energy to the team.
But at the same time, everyone needs to realise that they are not kids anymore,” explained Ashalata.
“They are in the senior team for a reason, being responsible off the pitch builds that mentality of doing the same on the pitch as well, and that’s the mentality that we all must have, going into the
Asian Cup,” she said.
The responsibility that the team has been developing, has also stemmed from the support that they have been receiving from all quarters. From the state governments of Jharkhand and Kerala, the fans, the coaches and even those former teammates who could not make the squad, the support for the Indian Women’s Team has been immense.
“We just have five weeks left for the Asian Cup now. It’s all about perfecting our game now. We played a practice match yesterday, but it was also mostly against those players who have been with
us, in and around the National Team fold,” said winger Dangmei Grace, who had recently scored a goal against Venezuela in the team’s last official match.
“We may have been playing against each other in the practice game, but the overall feeling is one of togetherness – we are all in this together, to take women’s football forward together,” she averred. “They all want us to do well in the Asian Cup.”