By Shraishth Jain
AIFF Media Team
KOLHAPUR: "Every time I step out on to the pitch, I have full faith in my abilities and know that I will certainly find the back of the net come what may," says 15-year-old Sumati Kumari, who has taken the Hero Junior Girls' NFC 2019-20 by storm so far, emerging as the top scorer with 15 goals.
She adds, "I have faced many obstacles in my life so far, but what has carried me through them is self-belief."
The young girls of Jharkhand have lit up the junior nationals with their delightful brand of football, which has seen them score 35 times in three games - including four goals in the quarterfinal against three-time champions Manipur. Leading the line for them has been the prolific Sumati, whose journey in the sport so far has been nothing short of inspiring.
"In my village, there were always small games going on here and there, and it piqued my interest. Then I got the chance to play in a local tournament and once I found my feet, I started enjoying and played regularly," Sumati told www.the-aiff.com.
Hailing from a village in Gumla district in Jharkhand, she began playing football at the age of 13 and in a very short time, she was spotted by scouts, who brought her to the state's training centre.
Sumati recalled: "Initially, my mother used to stop me from playing and said that I should study and stay at home, and that there is no use of playing football. However, I have always been confident in my abilities and want to make a name for myself in the sport."
Jharkhand coach Dharmender Singh also threw light on the high confidence and motivation levels in his wards. He stated, "The players train regularly and the coordination between them is good as a result. All of them are extremely motivated and give their 100 per cent in every game. They love playing football and expressing themselves on the pitch with the ball at their feet."
With the historic FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup set to take place next year, the junior nationals have become a scouting platform for the mega-event and the ever-confident Sumati has big ambitions.
"It is a dream of mine to represent the national team and wear the India jersey one day. Ever since the World Cup news came out, I made up my mind to give it my all to become a part of the team and should I be selected, I want to go all the way and even lift the trophy," she exclaimed.
JHARKHAND FACE SURPRISE PACKAGE GUJARAT
The first semifinal of the Junior Girls' NFC will feature Jharkhand and Gujarat as the former will look to continue their free-scoring run.
However, they will be up against a resolute Gujarat side that is yet to concede so far in their three matches as well and has shown great resolve to dig deep and grind out results.
HARYANA-HIMACHAL CLASH IN NORTHERN DERBY
In the other encounter, Haryana will take on Himachal Pradesh in what promises to be a mouth-watering affair. Haryana have been dominant in the four matches they have played so far, registering 24 unopposed goals, with skipper Raveena grabbing 10.
However, they will certainly meet their match against a solid Himachal side that has really gelled well in attack and poses a serious threat up with their trickery and pace.
The lineup for the semis is as follows:
Semifinal 1: Jharkhand vs Gujarat (7.15 am)
Semifinal 2: Haryana vs Himachal Pradesh (4 pm)
Posted on : Sunday April 28, 2019