For many, football is just not a sport but it also serves as their freedom to live life completely. Sudha Tirkey, a prolific striker of the India U-17 Women’s National Team is someone who is trying to prove it right through her endeavour in the beautiful game.
“Football is not just a game for me, it has given me the perspective to live life freely. It is something which gave me freedom. I could do what I wanted to do on the field and it felt amazing”, says Sudha.
The 17-year-old striker hails from Jharkhand, has undergone a lot of struggle throughout her life and believes, whatever happens, it is for the good. The constant struggle, the disappointments, the failures at times -all of these made her the most decisive person she is today.
“We are 3 in a family- my mother is a sweeper in my village school and my sister is four years younger than me and lives and works as a domestic help in different households. My father and mother got separated when I was three years old. He did not allow us to live in his house and so we shifted to a different village where we started everything from scratch”, informed Sudha while speaking to www.the-aiff.com.
“I want to play football to support my mother and sister and give them the comfortable life which they deserve. I am working hard to get a job in the army or the railways and give them all the necessities in life. My mother told me to not give up on my dreams and do whatever I enjoy in life as she believes I have the ability to do well in life, she added.
“I think whatever I am today, it’s all because of what I faced early in my life, which has made me stronger. Nothing bad can happen to me now”.
Sudha started playing when she was twelve years old in her village. People used to praise her skills and wanted her to continue playing as much as she wants.
“I started playing with my village boys- they used to motivate me a lot. If I missed a training session, they would come to my home to call me to play. I did not know much about football but whatever I did, I enjoyed the game a lot”
Sudha came to the National set-up after playing in the Federation Cup in Kohlapur and was one of the youngest members in the squad back in 2020 with Astam Oraon and Purnima Kumari. Now, after two years, she is one of the senior ones in the team.
“During the Federation Cup, I got badly injured in my forehead but did not stop playing. In that tournament, I was scouted for this team and since then have never looked back”.
“I don’t think myself as a senior – we are all together as a team and back each other whenever needed”, she said.
“I am selected for the U-17 World Cup, which is happening in the country for the first time and I cannot express how grateful and happy I am. I have been waiting for this moment to come and it’s here – I simply cannot wait to wear the India jersey and sing the National Anthem on our first match day”.
Sudha among many others was an outsider who had no knowledge regarding proper training, diet, or types of equipment needed to play football. She said, “I want to thank the AIFF for allowing us to experience such a kind of life. Whatever diet, the training I am having, it’s all new for me and is enjoying every bit of it”.
Report– Pratyusha Mukherjee