Hunger, confidence, communication – the cornerstones for Manisha Kalyan’s success

CHENNAI: Confidence is not always in-built; it is often earned, built over time, over sheer sweat and toil. At the age of 21, Indian Women’s Team winger Manisha Kalyan stands as a woman who oozes confidence, a quality that she has not always been blessed with.

The young attacker had begun her journey from Hoshiarpur, Punjab and made her way through the ranks of junior international football, before settling into the senior national team. Now, on the back of her performances, Manisha has gotten the chance to play for Cypriot club Apollon Ladies FC, where she finds herself competing in every small aspect of the footballing world.

Mujhe chidh machti hai (it eats away at me from the inside), when I see someone doing more than me in training. It’s just a mindset thing, and I’ve noticed that it has increased from the time I moved to Cyprus,” Manisha said to “It may be anything, really – someone lifting more weights, doing more push-ups, or running more on the pitch, or shooting with better accuracy. These days, when I see all this happening, I feel like doing it better than others.”

While that may portray Manisha as a player who quietly works her way toward self-improvement, that is far from the case. She is anything but quiet. Ever the jovial figure in training, Manisha can often be seen joking around with her teammates and being vocal about a number of things.

“It’s something I’ve learned over time. When you have a hunger for something, you need to talk to the people around you. Maybe what you’re thinking is incorrect. If you talk about it to your coaches or senior players, they could offer a different perspective, which might just help you on your way,” said Manisha. “Communication is very important.”

This confidence is something that has come to the young winger after spending the last few months in Cyprus, where she has been playing regular league football every week.

“I feel a lot more confident now after coming back. In my head, I can see what I want to do a few steps ahead, and I can do so confidently. My ability to take split-second decisions and general speed of thought, I feel, has increased,” said Manisha. “Playing 1-2 matches a week has certainly helped me in that aspect.”

India have not had the best of results against Nepal in the first of two International Friendly matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, with the Blue Tigresses conceding a two-goal lead in the last five minutes to draw the match 2-2. Manisha played an integral part in giving India the lead with an assist for Soumya Guguloth in the second half. However, the main purpose of these friendly matches is to prepare for the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers First Round, where India have been clubbed in Group G, alongside the Kyrgyz Republic and Turkmenistan.

“It’s always a learning process. Of course, we were missing senior players like Asha di (Ashalata Devi) or Aditi di (Aditi Chauhan) due to injuries, but the youngsters who were there on the pitch learned from this experience. Moving forward, they are less likely to let the game slip away in the dying stages like that again,” said Manisha.

“The Olympic Qualifiers are of course a tournament that we are all targeting, and we want to get into the second round like last time, and try to go further from there on. All that is happening now will push us to better our mindset in the end,” she said.

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