By Sruti Chakraborty,
AIFF Media Team
BHUBANESWAR: On a rainy afternoon, India landed in Bhubaneswar today, Tuesday, October 4, 2022, ahead of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022. They are back from their 10-day exposure tour in Spain, where they played matches against Sweden and WSS Barcelona Club as part of their preparations for the World Cup beginning October 11.
In Spain, Jharkhand’s Anita Kumari and Nitu Linda proved to be prolific scorers. In the encounter against WSS Barcelona Club, India won 17-1 and nine of the goals were contributed by Anita and Nitu. While Anita scored five, Nitu netted four times.
When asked about their experience, both sounded extremely happy. “Before the match, I thought of giving my best and score. I wanted to make my country proud. We all were driven by a different level of passion. We could do it as a team. I am happy to score and I know my mother will be very happy,” Anita said.
Meanwhile, Nitu, a shy girl, said: “Whenever I wear the India jersey, I make sure to give my best and try to score. It is all because of my teammates and the hard work we had put together for the last six months. For me, nothing comes easy, be it on or off the field. It’s just the beginning, and we have to prove ourselves more in the coming days.”
Both the young tigresses were selected from the Khelo India Games to be a part of the national U-17 team and share a nearly identical story of their early days.
Anita Kumari who hails from Ranchi, Jharkhand started playing football at the age of nine to support her family back home.
“My mother was the only earning member in our house and I saw the challenges she faced every day to raise me. We never received any support from my father. It was hard for my mother to make both the ends meet. I used to watch boys from my village play football. And just like that, I decided to be the “man of the house” and earn some money to support my mother. That’s how I started playing football,” the striker said.
“No one supported me except my mother, not even our village people. But my mother told me to go ahead and try to realise my dream and said, ‘one day, when you will play for the country, people will look up to you.’ And now, two years ago, when I got selected for the India team, people came to my mother to know about my playing career”, she added.
Similarly, Nitu Linda, who was a key player in the SAFF U-18 Championship held in Jamshedpur earlier this year, initially played football just as a hobby since she was six years old. Later, playing football turned out to be a real passion for her.
“I used to play lots of other sports in my school, like Kabaddi, Kho Kho, but never played football seriously. One day, a friend of mine told me to come and join her in a football game and I did. I used to play for pure fun earlier, but eventually, it became my passion,” recalls Linda.
“I knew the difficulty of playing football since I did not have any proper diet, shoes or even necessary clothes, but I did not care and started training. My mother was severely ill during those days so I had to do half of the household work while helping my brother. I used to train in the morning, then go to school. After coming home, I would do the cooking for the household. I followed the same routine for long, but never stopped playing.”
Nitu and Anita both nurture the dream of playing and scoring for the country in the upcoming U-17 World Cup and make their parents proud.
“I can’t believe only a week later we will be playing our first match against the US. I hope to give my best and contribute in whichever way I can,” said Anita.
“It will be a dream come true for me. My aim is to score and make everyone smile during the World Cup. The time has come to prove ourselves and we will do it,” quipped Nitu.