By Rohit Mundayur
New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) Representation of different regions in India is changing within the dressing room of the national women’s football team, according to coach Maymol Rockey.
“Earlier there used to be more girls from the northeast in the national team than any other region. But now we always have two or three from, say, Delhi,” Maymol told IANS.
As is the case with a group of people in situations like these, the players tend to gravitate towards teammates with whom they have a common thread like language or culture and so on.
Breaking down such barriers is key to Maymol. “As a head coach I know each of the players and their backgrounds. The culture, language etc. vary from state to state, so I try to get them out of their comfort zones. Some girls don’t like it but to have a good team, you need to break a few things,” she said.
“We have a fine system. If you are in a group you cannot speak your mother tongue. You need to speak a common language, either Hindi or English. If the girls want to go out after training, they can but they have to respect the curfew time that has been given to them. If they don’t, they have to pay a fine. All this is just to make them understand that there are certain rules that they have to follow because they are now playing for the Indian football team… they are representing the country,” she said.
Senior players who may be disgruntled with these measures come around after seeing the match results, whether they be positive or negative.
“I don’t interfere with their personal lives. Let them have girlfriends or boyfriends, whatever they want, but on the pitch you have to give me your 100 per cent. The seniors eventually they start realising that these are not things they need to do for me but for themselves,” she said.
Maymol’s past as a former player who has gone through the grind one needs to face to become a professional in India helps her get through to the players.
“Some girls are quite free while the younger ones are a little afraid. But once they see how the older players interact with me, they also come over,” she said.
Maymol had travelled to France earlier in the month to attend a few FIFA Women’s World Cup matches.
“Through FIFA I got the opportunity to go, so the girls were like ‘mam why didn’t you take us’,” she said.
But Maymol saw the semifinals and the final with her players as they happened when the national camp was on. “It was fun to be with the girls and watch the matches. Most of them were supporting the USA but there were a few supporting England also. It was real fun,” she said.
The Indian team will next play the COTIF Cup which starts later this month in Spain.
“We are working a lot on strength and fitness. It is difficult, but the girls take it. That is the beauty of a young squad. They want to perform in any given time.
“In the last four months I was focussing on attacking play and scoring goals. But now I am concentrating on defence because we will be playing against European teams. When I started off, our finishing needed a lot of improvement and it has improved now.
“There was a match against Romania which we lost 0-3 but we conceded all the three goals in the first half. In the second half the girls did not let anything through and even the Romanian coach asked what did I tell my players at half time,” she said.
(Rohit Mundayur can be contacted on [email protected])