Women's Football
Tamil Nadu quartet looks for home support on eve of Chennai friendlies
14 Feb 2023

The success of Women’s Football is high on the Federation’s list of priorities, and as per the objectives in Vision 2047, we have begun the process of maximising the International windows in order for our players to play more competitive matches. The-aiff.com is present with the Senior Women’s National Team in Chennai to follow their progress as they prepare for the AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers.

Soumo Ghosh
AIFF Media Team

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu is one of those states that is special to Indian Football, albeit in an unconventional manner. While it may not be a conventional hotbed for the beautiful game like Goa, Manipur, Bengal or its neighbouring state Kerala, Tamil Nadu does have a burgeoning sporting culture, of which football is very much a part.

In fact, Tamil Nadu is the only state in the country that boasts of champion clubs in the Hero Indian Women’s League (Sethu FC, 2018-19), Hero Indian Super League (Chennaiyin FC, 2015 and 2017-18), and Hero I-League (Chennai City FC 2018-19).

The current Senior Indian Women’s Team, who have four players from the state – Indumathi Kathiresan, Sandhiya Ranganathan, Karthika Angamuthu, and Sowmiya N – has been training in Chennai for around a month, and will now play two International friendlies against Nepal in the city on February 15 and 18.

"It’s such a privilege for us to represent India in our home state. For me, these are familiar territories, and helps provide a certain level of comfort," said Indumathi, who hails from Cuddalore, but has been living in Chennai for around five years, now also working as a Police officer.

"I’ve been living in Chennai since my college days, and I can tell you that a lot of girls in the state play football. "The fact that there are so many female players coming through from the state attests to that," Indumathi said.

However, the midfielder feels that girls in Tamil Nadu often have to choose their own priorities once they reach a certain age in life.

"When I was in college, a lot of my friends would play, not just football, but other sports also. But it’s what you do after college that matters in the longer run. I decided to carry on playing, and thankfully have had the opportunity to play in the National Team. Many girls have to prioritise their studies over the game. Many are forced to get married after a certain age," she said. "It does not have to be like that, and that’s why we feel that it’s so important that we (the National Team) play well here in front of the Chennai crowd."

 Attacker Sandhiya Ranganathan is another important cog in the Blue Tigresses machinery and can’t wait to play an international match in Chennai for the first time.

"I’ve played plenty of matches in Chennai before at the domestic level, but never before, have I played for India in this city, and that is going to be something special," said the speedy winger. "I hope we get good support from the stands. That is something that we are always on the lookout for, as it helps give us a boost.

"I remember, whenever we went to Nepal to play against them, we were greeted by hostile crowds. Now that they are coming to our home, I would very much like to see us return the favour," chuckled Sandhiya.

Goalkeeper Sowmiya N has been a part of the National Team setup, coming through the ranks from the U-18s to the senior stages. For her, it is essential that the game spreads to different parts of the state, especially to her state.

"I feel that the decision to host the match in Chennai was great. The city has not seen International football in a long time, and we are so happy that we are now getting to play here. I think more such states should get such opportunities to spread the game throughout," said Sowmiya.

Midfielder Karthika has been one of the newer additions in the National Team over the last couple of years. Never having played against Nepal, the 23-year-old is relishing the opportunity to hit the field.

"I have not yet played against them, but have heard a lot from the other teammates about how they have improved in recent years. It really gives me a lot of motivation to prepare well for such a clash, and if I do get the opportunity, it will of course be a special one," she said.

India will play Nepal in two international friendlies on February 15 and 18 at 7.30 pm and 7 pm, respectively, and the matches will be streamed live on the FanCode platforms.

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