Five talking points from India's performance in the SAFF U-15 Women's Championship
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
The team was led by the likes of Firmin D'Souza and Bembem Devi.
The Indian U-15 women earned redemption by winning the SAFF U-15 Women's Championship and defeating favourites Bangladesh in the final. It was their opponents in the final who had given them a cruel defeat in the final of the last U-15 Championship, but Firmino D'Souza's girls did well to hold their own and earn a great victory this time. The U-15 Women looked extremely confident throughout the tournament, starting it with flying colors with an emphatic 12-0 win over Sri Lanka and then squeezing hard-fought wins against Bhutan and Nepal en route to the final.
This impressive victory provided further light into the development of Women's Football in the country and proved a bright generation coming through from the youth ranks. So let's look at the 5 Talking Points from India's SAFF U-15 Championship victory.
5. Exciting attacking brand of football a promising sign for future of Indian Women's Football
While the Indian U-15 Women didn't showcase complete dominance in all their games, they did play some very entertaining brand of football in which they were always on the attack looking for goals. The attacking line of Shilky Devi, Sunita Munda, Lynda Kom and Avika Singh have formed some amazing chemistry which allowed them to produce beautiful attacking moves through the wings and terrorize their opponents.
It seems like Firmino D'Souza allowed these girls to show more freedom in their game, hence resulting in so many goals being scored in India's winning campaign. The 12-0 victory against Sri Lanka was the prime example of how destructive these young ladies can be at their best and with so many goals and chances being created, it meant that India were deserving winners in the end. The young girls have the ability to create stunning moves through the wings and the middle, with their amazing confidence in attacking showing promising signs for the future.
4. Do the Girls' bright performances call for wider recognition on the national level?
With this impressive victory, the U-15 girls proved how they will continue being the torch-bearers for Indian Women's football in many years to come, but their success should be rewarded on a wider scale. Most of these girls come from small-time football academies which do not have the best of facilities, but despite that, they've managed to play so well. While many footballing bodies in the country are doing their best to improve the state of Women's Football in India, these girls deserve better attention from prominent clubs to help them gain further recognition.
They deserve to be known among a wider audience and if the ISL or even prominent I-League clubs take an initiative to start their own Women's team, these girls will gain much more popularity. Putting the spotlight on these girls can inspire many other young girls in the country to take up football as a professional. It can also avert another Hima Das case in which the record-setting Indian had to give up football because of its lack of scope in the country.
3. Can Shilky Devi be the next big thing in Indian Women's Football?
Shilky Devi led from the front and was a crucial reason for India's victory in the SAFF U-15 Championship, as she terrorized defenders with her stellar movement and creativity in attack. Devi dazzled the Sri Lankan team and scored an amazing hattrick in India's opening match in the competition, where she led India to record a historic 12-0 victory over their opponents. Devi also scored the winner against Bhutan and ended up as India's top scorer in the tournament.
She was also among the joint-top scorers in the tournament with four goals and her amazing ability to win matches for India proved how her leading skills. Devi was probably the brightest talent to shine through in the SAFF U-15 Championship victory and proved to have the talent of being the poster-girl for Indian Women's Football in the future.
2. Firmino D'Souza has instilled the right kind of mentality within the girls
When they lost to the Bangladeshi girls in the finals of the SAFF U-15 Women's Championship a year ago, India seemed to lack that killer instinct needed to win trophies. Despite being strong throughout the tournament, the girls failed in the last hurdle and had to suffer the cruellest of defeats in the last moment. But Firmino D'Souza made sure that was not to be repeated and has done a fantastic job in managing these talented girls. He's not only improved their game-play and made them more defensively aware, but has also made sure the girls are healthy and fit for big occasions.
D'Souza spoke about making sure the girls follow strict diets to keep themselves in good health and for their physical growth as well. That was on show in the tournament, where India was not pushed over by anyone else and held their ground against the toughest opponents. Not only did these young girls play some fantastic football, but coach D'Souza has instilled this never-give-up mentality which doesn't allow these girls to slack off and makes sure they're fully motivated to win every single match.
1. Can these girls keep up the momentum to qualify for the Women's World-Cups in future years?
With this monumental victory, the Indian U-15 Women proved to be the best team in the South Asian Football region and despite their impressive victory, they need to aim higher in the future. These talented women proved their ability to show up on the bigger occasions and will need to continue their development if they have a chance of qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup two years later. It'll be an extremely difficult task due to superior nations in the Asian region, but these girls have the grit and determination to oust the toughest of challenges and will give it their best to try and qualify for the tournament in 2020.
If that cannot be achieved, then qualification for the 2022 U-20 Women's World Cup can be targeted as well. These girls will need to keep improving themselves and have to remain strict if they're to compete with the continents best teams and have a chance at qualifying for the World Cup. These girls proved their talent to compete with the best with their impressive U-15 SAFF Championship victory, but Firmino D'Souza needs to make sure they retain their competitive mindset if this squad is aiming to create history in the future.
Published: Sun Aug 19, 2018 05:30 PM IST