Indian Under-14 girls did the nation proud in the recently concluded six nations AFC U-14 Girls Football Festival (South, West and Central Asia) by lifting the trophy for the third successive time. The Indian girls showcased their regional dominance in this fortnight long Asian level tournament in which teams like Bhutan, Iran, Jordan, Palestine and hosts Sri Lanka participated alongside India
The festival commenced on the 1st of March in Colombo and it witnessed a host of other football activities before the matches actually began. The festival concluded with the tournament’s final encounter on the 14th of March between Iran and India.
Day one activities were kicked off with the commencement of AFC “C” grade coaching certificate course with fourteen female referees from the six participating nations taking part in it. This five day course was meant to prepare them for officiating in the tournament which eventually started off on the 10h of March with the best referees getting recommended for the AFC Project Future program.
The Indian squad comprising of 22 members left for the tournament on the 8th of March. All the countries initially divided their squad into two teams with the Indian teams being India I and India II. With all the nation’s team I competing with the opponents’ team I and team II fighting it out with opponents’ team II.
After losing to Sri Lanka’s team I on morning of day one, Indian I team stepped up a gear on the next day as they scored one against Iran to come up with their first win of the tournament. On the other hand the girls from India II were coming out with astounding victories from their very first fixture. They dispatched their day one opponents Palestine II 9-0 and continued on with the similar form by thrashing Bhutan II 8-0. They further inflected pain on Palestine II by securing another huge win over them by six goals to nil and defeated Jordan II 3-0 in their final match.
On the final day, all the nations combined both their teams to form a single team. The combined team inflected more misery on the rest of the teams as they drubbed both Jordan and Palestine by the same margin of 10-0. In their last match they hammered Iran but this time Iran managed to keep it respectable with the full time score line reading 2-0 .
Nevilla Colaco from Goa finished the tournament as the highest scorer with a mammoth total of 12 goals while Dalima Chhibber of Delhi found the opponents’ net nine times which let her to finish second on the list of top scorers.
The girl’s didn’t just play hard they played fair as well and picked up 20 green cards throughout the tournament for sporting behaviour and fair play.
The condition of football in India is not something which we as a nation can be proud of and when it comes to womens’ football, the situation is quite appalling with countless odds stacked up against them. Although this is not a big tournament but this is the foundation for sure. This performance from our teenage girls has shown that all they need is our support and they can go places.
Here is hoping that our National Women’s football team can take some inspiration and heart from this performance put on display by their younger counterparts when they step on the pitch for the 2012 Olypics qualifiers starting from the 18th of this month.
(PS: This festival will now progress to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, from June 1 to 14 which will see the teams from Eastern and ASEAN regions slug it out for the ultimate glory.)