Hero IWL a platform to develop football, echo Odisha coaches

Odisha’s efforts to turn Bhubaneswar into the ‘Sports Capital’ of India has been well documented over the past few years. While the 2018 FIH Men’s World Cup (hockey), the city has also hosted a number of football tournaments like the Hero Super Cup, and the ongoing Hero Indian Women’s League. With the city also set to be one of the host cities for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, that title may well be justified.

Apart from being a permanent training back for both men’s and women’s hockey teams, Sports Odisha has been an ardent supporter of Indian Football over the years, with Bhubaneswar being the home of Indian Arrows, besides hosting the Indian Senior Women’s Team, the Hero Gold Cup, the Super Cup, and Hero Indian Super League matches, and much more.

Head Coach of Odisha Police Sradhanjali Samantaray a local superhero, who has represented the Senior Indian Women’s Football team in the past, credits state Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik for all the sporting progression.

“The only credit for the development of sports goes to our Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik and the Odisha Government who are trying to develop all kinds of sports here. The upcoming FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which will be held here is an opportunity for many players to show their best,” she said.

“When we used to play, we did not have such facilities, but now everything has changed, and I feel every parent should allow their children to play the sport they like and make a career out of it. I want to thank AIFF and the Odisha Government for making this league happen,” she added.

This is the first time that the AIFF, with the help of the Odisha Government, is hosting the Hero IWL, with as many as 12 teams from different states taking part in it. Out of the 12, two of the teams – Sports Odisha and Odisha Police are the proverbial home sides.

“Hero IWL is the biggest platform for women in India to showcase their talent in front of the world. It’s kind of a development project for Odisha as around 60 odd girls are playing against some of the top teams in the country. This adds inspiration to the girls as well,” stated Sports Odisha head coach Gitanjali Khuntia.

“The girls are learning from the best in the country, which is very much required for the growth of Odisha Football as well. Some of the players who are also playing in other clubs can get the experience and share with our girls, which is very helpful,” she added.

There are some of the senior national team stars who are representing their state, such as Pyari Xaxa, Manisa Panna, and Jabamani Tudu and both the coaches believe the other players can learn a lot from them.

“The girls who are participating here, I can vouch that they have a bright future ahead as they are getting the opportunity to play with or against some very high quality players. I believe that my players have that kind of talent and skill that they can be selected for the National Team in the upcoming days,” Shardanjali expressed.

Sports Odisha are at the fifth place on the table with 17 points, while Odisha Police are at 10th with six points, having played 9 matches each in the ongoing Hero IWL campaign.

“We both may be in different teams, but we don’t feel likewise. We feel we both are in the same team, and it’s the same for the girls too. We face each other only for 90 minutes. Rest of the time, we are together,” laughed Sradhanjali.

Credits: AIFF Media

For Trial related updates: Latest trials updates in Mumbai Football

Also Read: “Winning the U-17 Inter-Disctrict league will boost female participation in Kolhapur” – Amit Salokhe, Head Coach

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