Indian girls return with best performance card from AFC festival

May 7th, 2009 - 11:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Unnoticed and unsung, 22 Indian girls, forming two 11-player teams, returned from Colombo after putting up a creditable show in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) south central under-14 festival there.
India’s girls topped the five-team festival with 21 green cards followed by Jordan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Bhutan in that order. India won all but one of their matches, which was a 30-minute draw with Iran.

Being a festival to encourage the game among girls at the grassroot level, there are no points to be gained from victories. Only cards — green, yellow and red - are awarded. The A and B teams of each country play in sessions of 30 minutes each.

Expressing satisfaction with the health of sub-junior girls soccer in India, coach Anita Sarkar, 43, said that the present bunch of under-14 players had it in them to form a promising team for the AFC under-16 tournament.

Most of the girls who made the Colombo tour were also in the team that put up a good show at the last festival held in Vietnam.

Before taking the plane to Colombo the girls were put through a six-week coaching camp at Bhopal. In spite of the searing heat of the Bhopal summer and the hard playing surface, the enthusiasm of the girls was unflagging, said coach Sarkar. The dividends came in the shape of the 21 green cards in the hot and humid conditions in Sri Lanka, she added.

As in the previous festival in Vietnam, Tanvi Bhargava was the top scorer also at Colombo, with 10 goals out of the team’s total of 61. Rani Devi (Manipur), Oshim Devi (Manipur) and Parvin (Bihar) were not far behind with nine goals each. Nikhila (Kerala) followed with eight.

Tanvi told IANS that her most memorable moment at Colombo came when an official from Malaysia came up to her to tell her that she was the festival’s top scorer. According to Tanvi, the Indian girls, toughened by the training stint at Bhopal did not lose their cool even when the going was rough. The match against Jordan for example.

The Chandigarh daughter of a doctor couple, who is at school in Mayo’s, Ajmer, is looking forward to playing in the India jersey in the Asian under-16 cup in a couple of years. Well she might, like several others in the under-14 team.

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