Women’s football team’s Indumathi, Sanju interact with fans before leaving for Brazil


India women’s football team players Sanju Yadav and Indumathi Kathiresan had a virtual interaction with fans before leaving for their tour to Brazil. India, ranked 57 in the world, will be playing against seventh-ranked Brazil on November 25 followed by World No. 37 Chile on November 28 and World No. 56 Venezuela on December 1.

Both Indumathi and Sanju are in the 23-member squad announced by coach Thomas Dennerby on Thursday and will depart on Saturday for Manaus in Brazil. Talking about the preparations ahead of the tour, midfielder Indumathi said, “All of us are working hard and are extremely excited about our tour to Brazil. We are especially looking forward to playing against Marta and learning from her.”

It will be the first time that an Indian football team (both men and women) will play against Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela at the senior level. Before this, the women’s side has already played matches in Turkey, Uzbekistan, UAE, Bahrain, and Sweden this year as a part of its preparation for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, to be hosted in Mumbai and Pune next year.

The interactions with the fans, ranging from budding footballers to young girls looking to take up the sport, resulted in some moments of inspiration. A 7-year-old girl spoke about boys in the playground told her that football is not for girls. Indumathi gave the young girl an emphatic reply.

“When I was playing at the state level, people often told me that this a sport for boys, not girls. Even at home, they used to ask me why are you playing a boys’ game? But nobody can tell you that this is not a girls’ game, and for that, we have to go out there and sh”w them.”

There was a budding woman footballer who asked Sanju how she made it from Haryana’s Bhiwani to being selected for the tour to Brazil. In reply, Sanju, who plays as a mid-fielder, mentioned the importance of her family’s support from the beginning and cited being selected for the first time to the Indian camp as a special moment of her career.

“I first played football at school when our PT (physical training) teacher made us play the game during recess. I soon developed an interest and started going out to play regularly. In the beginning, my family had no idea about it but when I started coming home late, they soon found out that I was playing football. Since that day, they have never stopped me. Thanks to their support, I soon made it to the national U-13 camp. To date, getting selected for that first Indian camp remains the most special moment of my career.”