Rocky roads ahead, but new coach brings hope
By Ayantan Chowdhury | Express News Service | Published: 03rd August 2017 08:07 AM |
CHENNAI: Not many know about former India footballer Maymol Rocky. Even fewer people know that she became the first woman to take charge of the senior national women’s team, when she took up the reins on July 12.
A proud moment, no doubt, for the Kerala-born player who was assistant to former coach Sajid Dar. “I have always dreamt of doing something worthwhile for the women’s game. There are no words to describe the appointment,” she told Express.
Her first assignment was taking the team to play two friendlies in Malaysia. While the first was cancelled due to a scheduling goof-up, the second was won 2-0.
The team landed in New Delhi on Wednesday. Incidentally, the friendly was the first the team played in over four years.
“The girls kept telling me that they wanted to play for me and make me proud. We had a 10-day camp. Fitness-wise there are issues. But with more games, it will get better,” the former right-back remarked. She plans to try and reduce the average age of the team by bringing in more youngsters, especially after the retirement of Bembem Devi.
Playing more games is the issue, however. While Rocky would ideally like her wards to play close to 30-40 games a year, most of them end up playing about 10.
Only a handful of states have a dedicated women’s league: Manipur, Odisha, Haryana and Goa (Goa Football Association (GFA) are planning to start soon). International matches are hard to come by and the SAFF Championship is what the team looks forward to. Their last outing was the 2018 Asian Cup qualifiers, in which they lost three and won one.
“The All India Football Federation (AIFF) are trying their best, and the state governments should get involved. We are 60th in the world and only more games will help us realise our potential.”
The AIFF launched the Indian Women’s League in January with six teams: FC Alakhpura, Jeppiaar Institute of Technology FC, Aizawl FC, FC Pune City, Rising Student Club and Eastern Sporting Union. Maymol served as a scout for the event and ended up scouting over 200 girls.
“A professional structure is the way forward and the league might help realise that. Lack of money will also be solved. More teams should join and the duration should be longer. Like Aditi (Chauhan), the girls should also try abroad. Exposure is what is holding us back.”