Chandni Chowk to Tottenham

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I was 11 years old when I started playing football and I cannot imagine my life without it. Despite my love for the game, my football journey has not always been full of rainbows and sunshine. It was, however, completely worth it and I am here today to tell you about this love story.

I was never into sports, just like the majority of the girls reading this blog right now because girls are not supposed to be athletes, right? I first got interested in football when I saw my elder brother play football with his friends. I expressed my ardent desire to play football with him and his friends and was told that “football is not for girls!” When I went to my parents, crying, they told me to “just forget about it”.

When I received no support from my family, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My school did not have a girls football team so I had to convince the principal, the football coach, and other girls to make one. After I did all this convincing and jumped through a million other hoops, my school became the first school in India to have their own girls’ football team(Joseph Solomon). I was, however, still not satisfied and decided to join a boys’ academy to improve my game. To do this, I had to convince my parents that football is my passion and that unlike millions of other girls who are cruelly prevented from pursuing their dreams, I did not want to fall prey to arbitrary gender roles.

We girls are expected to be quiet, well-mannered and elegant. Society expects us to forgo athleticism, aggression, or competitiveness. Defying the norms and doing something that goes completely against societal expectations makes things more difficult and complicated than they need to be.

Convincing my parents was only the first step in what turned out to be a long struggle. Being the only girl in the academy came with a lot of challenges. I had to train intensively to reach upto the level. I ran uphill thrice a week and did heavy physical training in order to develop my muscles(Indranath Mukherjee). My hard work paid off, and in the following years I got the opportunity to represent Delhi Under 14, 16 and 19 teams(Adit Ganguly).

In 2008, my dream came true when I got a call to play for the Indian national team. Sadly, the celebrations and jubilation proved to be short-lived. I was denied the right to represent the Indian national team due to my dual-citizenship and despite all the appeals and arguments that I made, I was unable to prove that “I was loyal to the Indian team”. Heartbroken, I moved to England to pursue my masters. Sometimes, regardless of your dedication, things do not work out and you have to just move-on.(Indranath Mukherjee)

I did not let the many setbacks discourage me and so I kept up with practices and training with my university team while I worked on my masters. The academy where I practiced did not have a single graduate male player or someone who was in college and on the other hand the entire female team was either a graduate or still in college(Adit Ganguly). I trained really hard and gave my best in all the open trials I went to. Boys did not have open trials, they had scouts coming over to watch them play. I got the chance to play for Tottenham Hotspur Ladies after an amazing trial with them. I was playing for one of the top clubs in England and after that there was no looking back. I was living my dream, doing something that I always wanted to.

During my time at Tottenham, I had to work as a Marketing Executive in a local company to earn a living wage because the compensation I received for football was not enough to make ends meet(Indranath Mukherjee). At the end of the day, however, the immense joy that this game provides me makes all my struggles absolutely worth it.

The opportunity to play football at the highest level has been a pleasure. I hope that my struggles can light a spark that can ignite the fire of inspiration in anyone who has ever been subjected to discrimination on the basis of their sex or has been dragged down and shunned. It is a travesty that many young girls never get to experience the joys of playing a sport because of societal pressures. I believe that my coming across football and sticking by for long enough to overcome the discrimination was certainly a blessing.

We are striving and our efforts most certainly will not go in vain. The world is evolving and things are changing. Indian Women’s Football team ranks fifty-seventh in the FIFA rankings, over a 100 places better than the men’s team and I am sure this will inspire more women to overcome sexism and gender stereotypes to realise their dreams. I wish to go back one day to where it all started and return the favour that I owe to my country. I hope by the time I am back my spark has started a fire.

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Chandni Chowk to Tottenham. (2019, Jul 23). Retrieved from

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