Friday , April 19 2024

For India its all about playing good football at the SAFF U16 Women’s Championship!

From the warmth of coastal Goa, the Indian U16 Women’s team have landed in much chillier conditions in Kathmandu, Nepal. In less than 72 hours, the Young Tigresses will begin their SAFF U-16 Women’s Championship campaign against Bhutan.

A very special trip for each one of these young girls, their first journey across the border and first time representing their nation. The next week and a half are going to be the biggest ones of their young careers.

Newly-appointed head coach Biby Thomas shared how the camp functioned in Goa, and how the players were selected for the tournament.

“We started the camp on January 15, and the selection trial lasted 16 days. More than 60 players attended these trials, from which the list of probables was shortened to 30 players in February. Now, the final 23 have made the cut to Nepal.

“Our scouts were present in all the Sub-Junior and Junior Girls National Football Championships, both Tier 1 and Tier 2 tournaments (held in Amritsar, Belagavi, Bhubaneswar and Jodhpur), who selected players for this batch,” he said.

Thomas, who was the assistant coach of India’s SAFF U-19 Men’s Championship triumph also in Nepal last year, emphasised that it’s not only about getting wins here. Player development is of supreme significance at this age.

“Our camp was very fruitful. We focused on every aspect of the game because at such a young age, you need to develop everything. If we only chase results, we can’t get that development. The biggest positive from our camp is that the girls are learning quickly.

“Our focus is development, and not just winning here. Most of our players are born in 2010. The benefit of bringing such a young squad here is that going forward, this batch will have more playing experience together. Overall, the players are selected on merit, with the focus on who all can potentially grow into a top player at the senior level,” explained Thomas.

For now, though, all the Young Tigresses want is to play good football, enjoy their international debut and bring the SAFF U-16 Women’s Championship trophy home. However, this is just going to be the start, Thomas affirmed.

“This tournament is very important for not just these girls, but our national team setup too because they are the future of the Indian Women’s Team. But this will only be the beginning. After the SAFF, we have to concentrate on qualifying for the AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup. It’s a long journey, so we need to work extra hard and the girls are doing exactly that,” the head coach concluded.

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