Women's Football
How Astam Oraon’s parents paved the path to her footballing dream
26 Oct 2022

Sruti Chakraborty
AIFF Media Team

NEW DELHI: The stunning success story of Astam Oraon can also be scripted in a different way – to say it is all about the immense sacrifices made by her parents to help their daughter reach the top won’t be an exaggeration.    

‘Making sacrifices for children is what parenting is all about’, one gets to hear it often. The case of India U-17 Women’s World Cup team captain Astam Oraon is a perfect example of it. In her own admission, her family has put in everything they have to make their daughter a household name in Indian women’s football.

Astam, who hails from Banari Goratoli village under Bishunpur block in Gumla, Jharkhand was part of India’s 21-member squad for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and went on to lead the nation in all three matches in the group league in Bhubaneswar.

Finally, there was a situation rarely seen or heard in the sporting world. While their daughter toiled away on the training pitches and apparently became so famous that the local administration back in her native village decided to construct a road in her name, it was her parents, still working as daily-wage labourers, were ironically spotted working in the project.  

Her parents, father Heeralal and mother Tara Devi, still rely on their small agricultural land for survival, and when even that is not enough, they work as daily-wage labourers. Her family members were delighted that a road was being paved in their daughter’s name.

“We don’t feel we are working for anyone, it’s our own daughter’s road paved for the villagers here. It is a very proud moment for us. So, we try providing help in whichever way we can,” said Astam’s father to www.the-aiff.com

“Because of her achievements, the government has decided to pave the road in my daughter’s name which can help villagers in their daily commute. This is one of the biggest things that has happened to us and working for this is something that I and my wife are proud of,” maintained Heeralal. 

Heeralal may be a daily-wage labourer in the profession, but his love for the game is massive. It is his endless love for football that inspired Astam to set a goal for herself to be a footballer of national repute.

“I could not live my dream of being a footballer but seeing Astam play for the country gives me happiness. This is the beginning of her journey and I believe she will work more to play for the Senior National team and reach for the sky.

“Whenever I go out for work, people recognise me as Astam’s father which is a very new thing for me and I am enjoying it thoroughly. All the credit goes to her and her hard work,” Heeralal said.

(FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Ahead of the opening match against the United States, the district administration arranged for a television set and an inverter and had them delivered to Astam’s home so that her family and friends could watch her games.

“This is the first time we have a television in our home, we are extremely happy and thankful for all the support by the administration. We watched Astam play and felt very proud,” said Tara Devi.

“I hope Astam can learn from all the mistakes and do well in her future matches. We can only pray for her well-being and for that we will do whatever we can. When her father used to go out for work in different cities, I used to work hard to make sure my children had the required things they needed,” she concluded.

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