These East Delhi girls are going to Australia! And they will have a ball!
It was a moment of jubilation for these five girls from East Delhi. They had been practising hard for this one moment, and it was finally here. They had been selected for the Pacific School Games, 2017, in Adelaide, Australia, and would be five of the 16 women representing India at the Under 19 football tournament.
Yukti Verma, Deepika Venkatesh, Anisha Dongra, Vani Pant and Manshi Mishra are all students of Ahlcon Public School in Mayur Vihar Phase I — and their coaches couldn’t have been prouder. Selected by the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) to participate in the tournament, to be held from December 2-10, the team is heading for Australia this evening.
City Spidey caught up with them just as they were about to round up for the day.
“It is a dream come true. I am both excited and a little nervous to be playing for India abroad. It’s going to be a whole new experience,” says Manshi Mishra, who lives in Pocket IV, Mayur Vihar Phase I. “I thank my school coaches Vinita Bloni and Manoj Sharma, who worked so hard to get us this opportunity. It is as much their hard work as ours that we are representing our country today."
These girls are no novices. They have won many school- and national-level football tournaments and excel in their specific areas on the field. Deepika, Manshi and Anisha are the strikers, while Yukti plays as a defender and Vani as the goalkeeper.
While three of them live in Mayur Vihar Phase I, Anisha lives in Chitra Vihar and Vani in Mayur Vihar Phase II.
The girls, with their coaches Manoj Sharma (left) and Vinita Bloni (right)
Deepika Dongra, who lives in Pocket I of Mayur Vihar Phase I, says, "I believe it's a golden opportunity for us and a springboard for our football careers. We know we have several challenges ahead of us, but we will seize them by the horns. Facing international players is going to be challenging but we are ready."
Manoj Sharma, their coach, who has been serving at Ahlcon Public School for the past many years, told City Spidey that the winds of change were here — that nowadays as many girls as boys were taking to playing football. “When I started coaching in 2008-09, hardly any girl would take up football, but today there are as many as 150 students opting for the game,” he said. "It could be the result of the school management’s efforts or the trust of parents in their daughters, who are now allowed to participate in the sport of their choice.”
Shyam Verma, father of Yukti Verma and a resident East End Apartments in Mayur Vihar Phase I Extension, said he feels proud of his daughter. "Yukti was 8 when she started playing football,” he said. “And I have never stopped her. We cheered for her when news of her selection came.”
“And it’s not just my daughter I pray for,” he added. “My wishes go out to every girl on the team — and every daughter out there who is pursuing her dream."