Shillong, Apr 1: The Indian women’s football team are currently in Myanmar to take part in the second round of the Olympic qualifiers. India’s first match will be on 3rd April against Indonesia.

In the run-up to their campaign the All India Football Federation has been profiling a few of the footballers representing India, one of whom is defender Sweety Devi (pictured left).

Devi has been seen in Shillong in a couple of events over the years, like the U-19 competition that was held as part of the national Oorja tournament in 2017 and the Indian Women’s League in 2018. She represented Manipur and Eastern Sporting Union respectively.

Now she’s in the national team, but it wasn’t plain sailing when she began playing football, as she told the AIFF website.

“I started playing at the age of 10. But girls were not allowed to go out and play. There were a lot of social constraints,” Devi said. “But I was the odd one out. I was desperate. I went out, played with the boys and that left the jaws of many people hanging.”

In this, though, she received the support of her family, especially her father, who is a football coach.

“He was the one who took me to the field to play. Other than him, I wouldn’t have played football. I am luck to have a dad like him. The credit goes to him for motivating me everyday,” the 19-year-old said.

Devi, who is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree, was also part of the Indian team that won the SAFF Championship in Nepal recently, which India won for the fifth consecutive time after a 3-1 victory in the final against the hosts, where the defender got plenty of merit points for her efforts.

With many in the Indian team also hailing from Manipur, Devi has had plenty of support to get out there and play with full confidence despite her age.

When she was first selected for the senior team she says that she was “really scared because I wasn’t even aware of the level of football played at the senior level. I was confused if I could live up to that level or not.”

But live up to it she did and she has the vote of coach Maymol Rocky.

“The maturity that she shows through her game cancels out her young age. The team we have is young and she is as important like all others,” Rocky said.

India’s fixtures: vs Indonesia (3rd April); vs Nepal (6th April); vs Myanmar (9th April)

India squad: Linthoingambi Devi, Aditi Chauhan, Sowmiya Narayanasamy, Jabamani Tudu, Sweety Devi, Ashalata Devi, Dalima Chhibber, Michel Castanha, Lako Bhutia, Ranjana Chanu, Dangmei Grace, Sanju Yadav, Ratanbala Devi, Sumithra Kamaraj, Sangita Basfore, Indumathi Kathiresan, Anju Tamang, Roja Devi, Manisha, Sandhiya Ranganathan

(TSR file photo)

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