Traveling to tension packed Palestine is not exactly what one plans for their national debut tournament. India Striker Jyoti Burrett was part of the squad for AFC Cup (qualifiers) which did the same. The team could not qualify but the name ‘Jyoti’ aptly blazed all over the print media a few weeks back . The 23 Yr old Delhi lass enriched her football juggling skills as she completed her Masters degree in Sports and Health Science from University of Exeter. A Graduate from St. Stephens, she candidly talks about reasons behind why she neglected the desk jobs for a relatively dicey career in Indian football, TheHardTackle’s Kunwar Deep Singh reports.

Kunwar: Hi Jyoti! First things first I would congratulate you on your debut for the senior national team. We are all proud of the team and their efforts.

Jyoti: Thank You !

Kunwar: So lets hit the tune now! Jyoti, How difficult it was to choose between football and a corporate career. On one side there is family and peer pressure to earn some money and on the other you have your passion. Could you enlighten us through that difficult journey?

 Jyoti: I always knew that  I was not cut out for a desk job, and was fortunate to have a family who encouraged my sport and supported me financially and otherwise. I count myself lucky to be in a situation where I could follow my passion without having to face the pressures that so many other young female athletes in India do.

Juggling Her Way To The Top

Kunwar: Do you think studying Sport and Health science in UK will help in your football career? How different is the system from India and What things would you like to see in our country?

Jyoti: My academic background in the sphere of exercise has helped me be a more informed sportswoman. I am able to apply a scientific approach to my training, which enriches my physical and technical abilities on and off the field. For example, off season strength training is something that is often ignored but is of much importance that can catapult performance and prevent injury. Training and playing with my University team also provided me valuable on-field experience.

Kunwar:  How was your training stint with Tottenham Hotspur? Did you get a chance to enjoy the new Enfield training centre?

Jyoti: My short training stint with Tottenham Hotspurs taught me a lot about how to prepare and get in to top fitness levels before a season starts. Things like team tactics, co-ordination and physical fitness all need to be addressed and worked on months before the team actually plays matches together. Unfortunately the Enfield Centre was under construction during my time there.

Kunwar: Your social media pages state from “A Juggler to a Footballer”; often artists with the ball (juggling, trick) do not make great players on the pitch, you have definitely changed/challenged the notion. Any tips?

Jyoti: Juggling is a great way to get a feel of the ball and get comfortable with it. It doesn’t need to be highly showy or complex, but I think every footballer can be a decent juggler, but every juggler doesn’t necessary have to be a good footballer. Its an aspect of the game.

Kunwar: Indian Women’s football team is ranked 50th in the world. Do you think a proper national football league for women can be of great help?

Jyoti: Yes. Womens’ football need to be made professional so that it can be a sustainable profession. Apart from providing much needed exposure and match time, a womens’ league will ensure constant and consistent  livelihood for keen and dedicated players.

Kunwar: How realistic is Indian women’s chances of making it to a big tournament? Is World Cup a possibility?

Jyoti: I think Indian women football has endless potential. Given a few factors such as round the year leagues, a more structured off season programme and more playing time together as a team, I think world cup participation is highly achievable.

Kunwar: What is the role played by AIFF in women’s football development? Do you think a separate governing body for women’s football might help your cause better?

 Jyoti: The AIFF is doing a lot to uplift the situation on women football. Training facilities for the players have improved a lot. Regular friendlies and matches need to be arranged so that the team plays better together. A core managing body exclusively for the women game may help addressing these requirements that can make a difference and develop women football in a big way right from the grassroots level up.

Kunwar: Lack of awareness about women’s football is a major problem right now. How do you think more awareness can be generated?

Jyoti:  Coverage and broadcast for women’s football can promote the game and help attract young talent to take it up. More state leagues and inter state tournaments can also be a great way to bring womens football into the mainstream.

Kunwar: What is the next set of assignments for the team? ( something you are excited about )

Jyoti: I think the next big thing would be the world cup qualifiers for the 2015 world cup.

Kunwar:  Do you think that all I League teams should have women and a youth set up? And would it be beneficial if AIFF makes it mandatory?

Jyoti: I think that would be Ideal. it will boost women football immensely. If most top EPL clubs can have a youth and women setup, I don’t see why the I league cant.

Kunwar: We see a lot of women referees and officials in the men’s game especially in Europe? Do you think we can see active participation by women similarly in India? (Especially because even in women’s game there are male officials)

Jyoti: If female referees can have financial security through their profession and are seen at par with their male counterparts, it is something that more and more women involved with football will take up.

Indian Eves Are Ranked 50 In the Latest FIFA Rankings

Kunwar: Great ! Jyoti, now here’s a quick rapid fire round.

Jyoti: Yes sure.

Kunwar: Your Favorite Indian Club?

Jyoti: Pune FC 

Kunwar:  Favorite International Club?

Jyoti: AS Roma

Kunwar: Favorite Indian Player ( Current)

Jyoti: Arata Izumi, Oinam Bembem Devi

Kunwar : Favorite Indian Player ( All Time)?

Jyoti: Baichung Bhutia

Kunwar: Favorite International Players.

Jyoti: Francesco Totti

Kunwar: Awesome. Thanks Jyoti for obliging and taking some time out from your schedule. I hope Indian team scales new heights and all the players get their due recognition.

Jyoti: My Pleasure. Thanks !