By Soumo Ghosh,
AIFF Media Team
LUDHIANA: Many Hero Indian Women’s League teams have brought in talented footballers from overseas in order to improve the strength of their team. FC Kolhapur City striker Crystal Eke, a National Team player from Nigeria is one such player who has had a pleasant surprise upon seeing the level of women’s football on display in India.
“Travelling from Nigeria to here is a great experience. It's a bit different here. It's fun to have all the teams in the same place for a few weeks and play a tournament like the IWL,” said Crystal.
Once she arrived in India, Crystal’s pre-conceived notion about women’s football in the country changed completely.
“To be frank, I'm amazed with how good some of the players actually are. I wasn't expecting it. Right now, I can say that they are well above my expectations,” she said. “It’s a great league.”
The Nigerian striker who has represented her Country in International friendlies brings with her loads of experience, having played at clubs like Bayelsa Queens in Nigeria, and Amazon Grimstad in Norway.
“I grew up knowing that I can play. So I've always wanted to play football professionally. And all my life I've been into football,” she said. “Now, here in India, it's been a wonderful experience so far for me.”
Nigeria are one of the stronger teams in women’s football, having a strong league structure for women which has produced good results for the national team. To add to that, the popularity of women’s football in the country is also something that has helped them grow.
“Nigerian football for women is quite big right now. We have lots of women who play football, and the league is also a prolonged one that runs for three to four months on a home and away format,” she informed.
She feels the Hero IWL, which is in its third season has “improved leaps and bounds,” and paints a bright future for women’s football in India.
“You can't really compare the IWL with the other leagues right now, because this tournament is just a few years old,” Crystal observed. “But the level of football is pretty high. So I believe with a little improvement, India is going to compete in women's football with perhaps African and European teams.”
While Kolhapur are now out of the running to make the semi-final spot, Crystal echoed the club from Maharashtra has been like a family to her during her short stay in India. So much so that she would also recommend her compatriots to come to the sub-continent in the years to come.
“India has been fun. The people here are kind and welcoming. FC Kolhapur City has been like a home for we. We are all like a good family. I would encourage the Indian teams to sign more Nigerian players, and together, we can further boost the league.
Posted on : Saturday May 18, 2019