One the promising forwards to have played in the Senior Indian Women’s National Team in recent years, Sandhiya Ranganathan, is currently showcasing her talents in the Senior Women’s National Football Championship 2021-22 in Kerala.
Sandhiya hails from Tamil Nadu and she is currently representing her state in the Senior Women’s National Football Championship this season, netting 12 goals in the group stage.
Having started playing at the age of six, football was Sandhiya’s ticket to freedom as she grew up in a government-run hostel, and was not allowed to go outside. But she was amazed by the way her seniors would play football which became the turning point in her life. Despite all the challenges she joined sports and slowly football became her life. The young forward was first called up for the Senior National Team in 2018 ahead of the COTIF Women’s Cup in Spain. However, it was her performance in the SAFF Women’s Championship 2019, and in the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 that captured the imagination of the fans.
Having joined her state team in the Senior Women’s National Football Championship, Sandhiya wishes to implement the learnings she has received during her time in the National Camp. “The practice and endurance sessions in the national camp helped me a lot since I joined the Tamil Nadu team directly from the National camp. I felt like a foreign player here sometimes,” Sandhiya laughed. “All the practice sessions from the national camp were very useful to me and helped me grow a lot in the sport.”
She has been the part of the senior national women’s squad which travelled to the UAE, Bahrain, and Sweden to play some friendly matches against UAE, Tunisia, Bahrain, Chinese Taipei, Hammarby IF and Djurgarden IF as a part of their preparation for the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup next year.
“We gained a lot of valuable experience with the National Team in those six matches. Now the team had also gone to Brazil and played against some of the best teams in the world. Yes, I’ve missed out on that, but I am not one to dwell on missed opportunities. I work with what I have and I want to do well in the Senior Women’s National Football Championship so that when I re-join the National Team, I can continue with the same competitive spirit,” Sandhiya informed.
In the ongoing Senior Women’s National Football Championship, she has scored 12 goals in three matches and is so far the highest scorer so far, after the completion of the group stage. Tamil Nadu is placed in group H with Punjab, West Bengal, and Telangana.
She said, “I am very happy to score 12 goals in the group stage matches and very delighted to have become the top scorer. There were a couple of missed chances, had they been converted, there would’ve been more goals. I was able to score so much only with the team’s support and coach Gokila’s support”
The diminutive forward takes inspiration from none other than her Tamil Nadu and Indian Women’s Team teammate Indumathi Kathiresan. ”My inspiration is Indumathi Kathiresan. I have grown up watching her play closely and aspire to be the kind of footballer she is.”
She also praised the Kerala government who is hosting the tournament and said, “The Kerala Government has been very supportive. Right from the training grounds, to the match venues, and the accommodation and other amenities, they have taken good care of us players.”