Exclusive: India can do well in the Olympic Qualifiers- Ashalata Devi and Sweety Devi
Written by: Neelav Chakravarti
The duo talked about their tactician and the upcoming set of fixtures amongst other things.
With the Gold Cup campaign coming to a bittersweet end, there are lots of permutations and combinations which still need to be sorted out by the Indian women's senior team ahead of the Turkish Women's Cup. Winning the opening fixture against Iran was followed by losses to Nepal and Myanmar. But, the Maymol Rocky-managed outfit have learned their lessons from the recently- concluded tournament.
In the exposure tour to Turkey, the squad will be brushing shoulders against Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Romania in Group A. Also, there is a possibility of facing the likes of France (B), Turkey, Jordan and Northern Ireland in the latter stages. The matches will be a part of the side's preparations for the upcoming Olympic Qualifiers Round 2.
Khel Now got a chance to interview India's centre-back pairing of Ashalata and Sweety Devi after the Gold Cup. Excerpts:
Q1. How is it like to play under Maymol Rocky?
AD- The team has learned a lot from Maymol Ma'am over the past few months. It's a very young outfit and we are still in the learning curve. Obviously, qualification to the second round of the Olympic Qualifiers was a huge step for u, and she has guided us throughout.
Personally, she has also helped me a lot in understanding my role in the team, especially regarding my positioning both on and off the ball. She is very passionate about her work and takes special care to explain the roles to each and every player.
In the Gold Cup, India won against Iran, but lost the other two fixtures
SD- Ma’am is a really nice coach, who motivates us every second of the day. She tells us what to do and what not to do both on and off the field. She is someone I personally like playing under. She has been very helpful in turning me into a better player.
Q2. This is a very young team. So who are the voices in the dressing room? Like who speaks for the team during half-time or during matches?
AD- We all have our opinions and all of us have a voice in the dressing room. We all put in our inputs and all of our opinions are heard by the rest. This helps us all bond together and gel well as a squad.
SD- All of us have equal voices. Nobody cares if someone is young or old. Everyone’s opinion is equally heard and it is the unity that makes us strong.
Q3. How has Bembem Devi helped you in developing as a player?
AD- Bembem Ma’am is an inspiration for us all. We’ve all grown up watching her play and she was a childhood idol for us. She helped show the way to young girls who wanted to play football.
SD- Bembem-di has been a role model for me ever since I was young. Her services to the game are extraordinary and I aim to have a career as long as her.
Q4. How has the Indian Women's League helped in changing the women's football scenario in India?
AD- The IWL has been a huge improvement for the female footballers in the country. There's always a chance for women's football to grow and we now have the launchpad to do greater things in the future.
Under Maymol Rocky, the team has begun to concentrate more on youth
Having said that, we have seen some really good players come through the ranks from the IWL and we now have a big pool of talented young players knocking on the doors of the national team.
SD- The women’s league has given a different avenue to women’s football in India in a professional manner. It has given the players a pathway and a platform to dream about.
Q5. What are your thoughts about the recently-concluded Gold Cup? Has the team analyzed the mistakes? How is the outfit preparing for the upcoming fixtures?
AD- We played against some quality opposition. Obviously, the results did not really go in our favour, but the important thing is that we got some competitive matches under our belt, leading up to the SAFF Championships and the Olympic Qualifiers.
We want to do well in the SAFF Championship, but our main goal is making it through from the second round of Olympic Qualifiers. We have had some difficult matches against Nepal and Myanmar in the past, but I believe that we have been able to get a good look at how they play. I think if we stick to the plan we can get the desired result and qualify.
We all need to be match-fit, leading up to a big event like the Olympic Qualifiers, and the Gold Cup helped us do that. Now, we need to head back to the training ground, iron out the loose ends and head into the future tournaments.
SD- We tried to play each match to the best of our abilities. We have experimented with permutations and combinations throughout and are preparing well for the upcoming matches, including SAFF Championship and Olympic Qualifiers.
Published: Tue Feb 19, 2019 09:04 PM IST