Preparations are in full swing for the Indian senior women’s national team as they get set to travel to Myanmar for the first round of the 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament with the first match set to take place on November 8 against Nepal.
The team has been training under Maymol Rocky in Mumbai and the squad is a relatively young one, with the coach opting to rely on fresh blood in the team’s bid to create history and clear the first hurdle of the Olympic qualifiers for the first time ever.
One player who will definitely have a huge role to play will be 21-year-old midfielder Sanju Yadav, who hails from Alakhpura village in Haryana and has been a part of the senior national team ranks since 2016. She was a part of the Indian team that won gold at the 2016 South Asian Games and was named the AIFF Emerging Player of the Year for her efforts that year.
“I just want to give my best for my country,” said Sanju in an exclusive interaction with the-aiff.com. “It has been a wonderful journey so far with the national team and wearing the Indian jersey is a feeling that is truly special,” she added.
Her journey from her village’s field to the national team has been nothing short of inspirational and in her own words, it has transformed her life. “A few years ago, I could not have even imagined that I would be representing my country one day,” she said.
“Football has completely changed my life. It has helped me secure a job in the Railways, which has enabled me to take care of myself and also give back to my family, who sacrificed so much to make my dream come true,” stated the left-footed winger.
Talking about the challenge that lies ahead in Yangon, Sanju was upbeat about the team’s chances. “The camp has been very good so far and the atmosphere within the team is great. The new girls, who have been included in the squad for the first time, are also responding well and will add more quality to the side,” she said.
“We will give our all to qualify. Our aim is to make it to the next round and for that we have to win our first two matches,” added Sanju, who idolises national team stalwarts Sunil Chhetri and Sasmita Malik.
India are set to get their qualification campaign underway against Nepal (November 8), which will be followed by matches against Bangladesh (November 11) and hosts Myanmar (November 13). All three matches will be held at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, which has a capacity of up to 32,000 spectators.