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Breaking Boundaries: Panthoi Chanu's journey from Indian fields to Australian dream

Published at :March 31, 2024 at 7:51 PM
Modified at :March 31, 2024 at 7:51 PM
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Aishwarya Chakraborty


Panthoi Chanu, India’s Women’s National Team’s goalkeeper, scripted history by becoming the first Indian footballer to play in Australia.

Panthoi Chanu penned down a deal with Metro United, the South Australian Women’s Premier League side till September 2024, following her selection from the ‘Women In Sports’ Elite trials, jointly organized by Women in Sports, the AMPL Foundation, and the Football Players Association of India.

Panthoi Chanu joins the ranks of Jyoti Chauhan, Kiran Pisada, and M.K. Kashmina as the fourth player out of 27 participants in the second edition of trials to secure a contract, marking a significant milestone in her career. Soumya Guguloth, another young Indian national team winger, successfully secured a spot in Croatian top-tier club Dinamo Zagreb after the first edition of the WINS Elite Football trials.

Panthoi caught the eye of Adelaide United FC’s coach Adrian Stenta during the trials, which paved her way to sign for Metro United. Hailing from the Manipuri village Keirak, she initially started her career as a defender and also likes playing in the left wing. She had a training session with the Spanish Segunda Federacion outfit Malaga alongside Bala Devi in December 2022.

Before taking her flight to Australia, the Indian National Team Goalkeeper spoke exclusively to Khel Now. Here’s how the conversation went.

Excitement for Playing in Australia

Panthoi expresses her excitement about becoming the first Indian Footballer to secure a spot in the Australian club. Despite being unfamiliar with the team’s playing style, her motto is to adopt their style quickly and to progress and move forward.

She expressed, “I’m thrilled to be the first Indian footballer to play for an Australian club. While I’m not familiar with the team’s playing style yet, I’m eager to adapt quickly once I get there. My main goal is to keep learning and progressing.”

Overcoming Injuries

She suffered back-to-back injuries on her right shinbone in 2021 and 2022. The talented Manipuri goalkeeper had a tough time during her injury recovery process but her strong determination to get back to the field again helped her to recover along with medical treatments.

She added, “Dealing with injuries, especially to my right shinbone, has been tough. It required a long recovery process, including 45 days of bed rest recommended by doctors. Facing another injury in the same place the following year was challenging, but I’m determined to overcome it.”

Believing in intense hard work and dedication

Initially starting as a defender without any plans of becoming a goalkeeper she recognized the need to prevent goals and decided to showcase her strengths in defense through intense hard work and dedication. She believes that without hard work, progress is impossible, emphasizing the importance of practice both with and without the team.

Panthoi added, “I never planned to become a goalkeeper initially, but seeing everyone scoring goals made me realize the importance of defending. I wanted to showcase my strength in preventing goals. It’s all about intense hard work and dedication. Without it, we can’t progress. I practice tirelessly with and without the team because, without hard work, nothing is achievable.” Her versatility in playing different positions reflects her commitment to mastering every game aspect.

Team Bonding

The Manipuri keeper is very proud of her National team’s bonding. They together are more than a family and all of them are ready to give their full potential for the team’s sake. That attitude always boosts their mentality with a positive vibe in every situation.

Panthoi Chanu elaborated on asking about the competition with Shreya Hooda to be in the first XI, “Playing alongside Shreya Hooda isn’t just about teamwork; it’s like playing with family. We share a strong bond and understanding, and we’re all prepared to give our best for the team.”

Early life

She faced a lot of difficulties in her early life. Her grandparents always forced her to focus more on her studies instead of playing football. She received a strong support from her parents. After school, Panthoi used to go to play football instead of attending tuition.

According to the keeper, “Football is also an education, we can learn lots of things and there is a plethora of learning curves like we have in our traditional education system. We also have to appear for tests here.”

Experience in Malaga, Spain

Indian strikers Bala Devi and Panthoi had training and trailing sessions in Malaga, Spain in December 2022. Panthoi shared her delightful experience during her training stint, “Playing in Malaga has been a delight. I’m impressed by their unique playing style and modern facilities, which helped us greatly.”

Recent Improvements in Women’s Football in India

Panthoi is happy and optimistic about the recent changes in Indian Women’s Football. She shared her view, “Noticeable changes are happening in Indian women’s football. Improved facilities and longer Indian Women’s League seasons mean more game time. I hope to see even more significant changes next year. India has plenty of hidden talent, and it’s crucial to provide the right infrastructure and facilities to nurture them.”

The Indian Goalkeeper is also aware of the hidden footballing talents all over India. She wants a proper infrastructure and proper nutrition for them to allow them to shine and fully utilize their hidden potential.

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