By Joseph Solomon,
AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: “Sanju, Sanju,” the fans erupt in unison and rock the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong during the South Asian Games with cheers as an eighteen year old girl with chopped hair and sturdy physique waits at the Technical Area to replace a veteran Prameshwori Devi.
Born in a Village in Haryana, life for Sanju has been all about overcoming challenges through dedication and hard work. And rightly so, breaking stereotypes fall in her strides of life, rattling the patriarchal society in Haryana and living her dream of playing Football.
“Life is hard for everyone. Some have it sooner, some have it later. But what matters is the tenacity you show during the struggle,” words of wisdom come out of the mouth of the teenager.
While Haryana has eons of Football fields, Women’s Footballers are still a rare commodity in the region. But thanks to the likes of Sanju who acted as a beacon of hope for many young Haryanvi girls, the winds of change have been blowing and Women’s Football in Haryana is on an upward surge.
“It is heartening to see so many Haryanvi girls play Football. It fills me with joy that now I can go to the park and kick the Ball with my teammates.”
Not to forget that Haryana has produced some of the best sportspersons in India across all sports.
“Although slowly, people have started acknowledging Women’s Football and now Haryana has a sterling Women’s Football Team in the U-19 and the Senior Level,” Sanju utters.
“I am happy that I had to struggle for my dream. It has made me hold on to my dream and protect it every moment while working hard to sustain it,” she adds.
While some have it easy, Sanju has had it hard. The agile forward believes that the struggles in her life has moulded her into a person who never gives up, both on and off the pitch.
“I have learnt one thing in life and that is to never give up. You have to get through the pain and struggle and make yourself proud. Whenever I go on to the pitch I fight for every inch and every ball. It is a part of who I am as a person.”
After a brief pensive pause, Sanju adds: “Relentless! I am a relentless Player.”
The teenager from Haryana who idolizes the trickery of Holland’s Arjen Robben, made her debut for the Indian Women’s Senior National Team in the South Asian Games and featured as a second half substitute in the goalless draw against Maldives.
“It filled me with immense joy to be part of an elite group of Women’s Footballers in India. I learnt a lot, every second was a learning experience and that has helped in becoming a better Player,”
“In retrospect, my struggle against the society was worth it when I made my debut for the Country. That hardship paid off.”
Almost immediately after coming on, the crowd is enchanted by the teenager’s dexterity as she takes to her bike, rounds up the opposing Goalkeeper and scores from a narrow angle. India have scored their fourth goal against Bangladesh, but a first for Sanju and a beginning of many to come.
Posted on : Tuesday March 01, 2016